Iliamna Lake, Alaska. A remote and wild place. 1942. Babe Alsworth and Bill Hammersley are flying over the lake, when they spot something strange in the water below. Several large creatures, all with fishlike tails and elongated bodies. They were a dull aluminium colour, over 10 feet long. Their heads broad and blunt. The creatures were unknown to the pilots. They circled the area until the creatures disappeared. Another sighting matching this description was reported only a few years later, a lone creature that time, spotted by another pilot, who claimed it was over 20 feet long. Reports of this mysterious beast started to flood in. So many, in fact, that in 1979, a local newspaper offered $100,000 to anyone who could prove the creature’s existence…
It was in 1950 when Hammersley returned to the lake, this time with three friends. They were on the hunt for the creature. Moose meat was their bait, attached to the end of a thick steel cable. All was quiet for quite a while. Then, suddenly, a large creature grabbed the bait, snapping the steel cable. The creature disappeared into the dark and murky waters.
Alsworth returned to the lake in 1959, hired to search for the creature from the air, but he found nothing. A few years later, in 1963, another pilot did spot something, a mysterious creature below the water, 25 to 30 feet long. Over the following decade, more and more witnesses came forward claiming to have seen something from the air.
One sighting in 1977 described the creature as 12 to 14 feet long, with a dark grey or brown colour. That sighting was by a man who had flown over the lake in 1968 with two other men who saw exactly what he did in 1977. But, strangely, in 1968, he didn’t see anything at all.
1988 was the last lucrative year for the creature, with several sightings reported in just that one year. The area is incredibly remote and extremely difficult to access. There are less than 200 permanent residents. So it’s impossible to know for sure if the creature has appeared since 1988. We may never know what happened to this monster.
Many believe the creature was, or perhaps is, a giant sturgeon. Their armoured scales, large size and weight, plus their colouring and incredible extreme longevity, closely match the descriptions of the lake monster. Yet one has never been found in the lake and there is no evidence to suggest one has ever lived there. In fact, the largest fish ever found there was only four feet long. But it is a deep lake and sturgeons live at the bottom of lakes and rarely surface. Which may be why, when they do, many don’t know what it is and believe it’s some unknown monster. But then again, some don’t believe it is a sturgeon. Some believe it could be a beluga whale. Or even a sleeper shark. Or maybe some unknown entity stalking the deep, dark waters…
Despite the decline in sightings, this mysterious inhabitant of the lake remains famous and as popular as ever. But it’s likely we’ll never really know the truth about what is a legend of Alaska.
So I’ll give this creature a 90 on my patented Cryptid-o-Meter, putting top in the list with de Loys’ Ape still bottom.
The Iliamna Lake Monster. A fascinating cryptid indeed.
1) Iliamna Lake, Alaska (credit: commonsenseconspiracy.com)
2) An artist’s impression of the Babe Alsworth and Bill Hammersley encounter in 1942 (credit: cryptidz.wikia.com)
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