The Lake Erie Monster

She may not be as famous as Loch Ness Lake's Nessie in Scotland, or even as much as Chessie, the moster of Lake Champlain, but Bessie is the Great Lake's own prehistoric beast, residing in Lake Erie. Bessie is believed by crypto-zoologists to be a possible survivor of the dinosaur era, most likely a plesiosaur, which has been extinct for 70,000 years. Scientists also believed the coelacanth to have been extinct for millions of years, until one of the rare fish was captured in the Indian ocean about fifty years ago.

Bessie has reportedly been sighted 22 times since 1985, and she has always been seen on the U.S. side of Lake Erie. Awed witnesses have described her as big and dark. She appears to be either black, gray, or dark green, and she's at least 30 to 35 feet long. She has a huge round body and long neck, and she may have flippers, which is a classic description of a plesiosaur. Bessie has never been photographed, but an Ohio man obtained a printout of an electronic fish-finder wich showed a long, moving object under his boat. Also, an image showed up in the lake on satellite which depicted a curious serpentine shape. It was taken in the mid 1970's and has never been satisfactorily explained.

Dr. John Herdendorf, marine biologist, told a journalist that even after an enlargement of the satellite photo, it was impossible to determine what it was. Some scientists claim it must have been a sediment plume from a freighter, but Dr. Herdendorf pointed out that he and his colleagues had never seen a similar sediment pattern. He estimated that the shadow was about 100 feet long. Critics have discounted Bessie as everything from a huge Great Lakes sturgeon to shaows, to sediment, or a deliberate hoax. But credible witnesses who have seen Bessie stick with their story.

Harold Bricker, 68, of Shelby, Ohio told the Toronto Star that he and other family members were spooked by Bessie on Labor Day, 1990. The Navy Veteran and his family were returning from a day fishing trip and their boat was about a mile off Cedar Point near Sandusky when they saw Bessie. Bricker said the lake's surface was calm when he saw the dark shape lift up through the water. At first, he thought it was a whale, but Bricker claims the animal moved in the same direction as they were, and it kept up pace with the boat. He wanted to track it, but his wife and kids were scared. Another witness, Mary Stephen Landoll, was also quoted by Toronto Star as saying she was on shore at the family cottage when she saw, and smelled, Bessie. She said it was about 5 a.m. on July 14, 1983, when she heard a paddling sound and look out on the lake. She said she saw what at first appeared to be an overturned rowboat, then realized that some monstrous creature about 30 to 35 feet long was moving the quiet waters.

"It go way out there and then I saw a gigantic swan's or snake's head. It was awesome," she said. "It looked prehistoric..."

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