Up close and personal - was this Ogopogo?
Searching for Ogopogo

Although reported sightings have lessened over the past few years, occasional sightings still bring up the same question: is "Ogopogo" real? Why do most of the images taken by individuals often have reflections showing 2 or 3 bright spots when someone takes a photo? Is this creature really a throwback to an ancient age that has survived in the depths of Lake Okanagan?

Ogopogo Quest often receives reports from people who have seen some kind of anomaly in Lake Okanagan, adding to the belief that something special does indeed exist in our lake. Over the past few years, more and more reported sightings talked of smaller versions of the "creature", leading many to believe that the long-lost species might actually be thriving in our lake.

Bill Steciuk first saw what he believed to be the reclusive inhabitant of Lake Okanagan while he was crossing the bridge from the west side of Okanagan Lake towards Kelowna, where he and about 20 others who had stopped on the bridge, watched a head with three black humps behind it about 50 meters away for what he remembers was close on to a minute before it disappeared below the waves. From that time onward, he has spent many years documenting sightings of the elusive creature. He has been interviewed by several interested parties, from local media such as Global News and Shaw Cable, to international media and more. Bill has received requests for interviews from documentary producers and TV shows from Russia, Japan, the United Kingdom.

Is Lake Okanagan home to the elusive Ogopogo?

Drawing of "Ogopogo" - Author Unknown

The Legend

Lake "monsters" have been reported by thousands of people over the years in all parts of the world. Do they really exist? Is there a plausible explanation? Have some few prehistoric creatures somehow managed to survive the ages where most became extinct, but such that a handful still thrive in modern times? Many people have spent a lot of time studying reports of these cryptids in many countries around the globe. These are animals that cryptozoologists believe may exist somewhere in the wild, but whose present existence is disputed or unsubstantiated by science, such as the world-renown Loch Ness Monster.

How does a legend like Ogopogo start? It starts with sightings of something unexplainable. Over the past several centuries, countless people have claimed to have seen what they believed to be Ogopogo or N'ha-a-itk (the original name by which it was known by local native inhabitants of what is now the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada). In modern times, there have been several photos taken of this anomaly. All these reports certainly lend credence to this so-called "legend". Click here to read about many of the reported sightings.

Scientists have put forth the theory that unlike the world-renown "Loch Ness Monster", nicknamed "Nessie", the Lake Okanagan "resident" is probably a form of primitive whale, Basilosaurus Cetoides, which tallies almost exactly with the loglike descriptions by people who claim to have seen it.

The legend is such a large part of British Columbian folklore that the Canadian Government even issued an "Ogopogo" postal stamp in the 1990's, reflecting one artist's idea of what Ogopogo may look like, as described during many reported sightings up until that time.

Because of the sheer number of reported sightings in various parts of Lake Okanagan, a great many people believe that something does indeed exist, with the general consensus being that it is possibly a species that has survived due to the depth of Lake Okanagan and its cooler temperatures. Seasonally cooler temperatures and decreased boat activity in the Fall could also explain the fact that the majority of reported sightings seems to be between late August and early October.

Legend Hunters

Kelowna resident Bill Steciuk has been hoping to prove the existence of Ogopogo every since he is certain that he first saw the elusive Lake Okanagan legend in October of 1978. He and a group of believers dubbed themselves"Legend Hunters", and they set out to prove scientifically that Ogopogo does exist. Read about the fascinating expeditions in search of "Ogopogo" that Bill has been involved in over the years. After his previous intriguing searches, the latest search in September 2023 was a scounting expedition in advance of a major expedition planned for 2024, and even this one yielded some very interesting results!

Where does the Name Come From?

The history of Ogopogo is rather fascinating. Often observed in the lake by the original First Nation occupants of the Okanagan, they referred to the creature as n ̓x̌ax̌aitkʷ in the the Syilx language — pronounced "n-ha-ha-it-koo" — meaning "something in the water," according to Chief Byron Louis of the Okanagan Indian Band, one of the seven communities of the Syilx Nation in British Columbia.

From "N’ha-a-itk" to "Ogopogo"

The anglicized version of this Lake Okanagan legend's name has its roots in a British song published in 1924, which included the following stanza ""I'm looking for the Ogo Pogo, The funny little Ogo Pogo; His mother was a polly while his father was a whale, I'm going to put a little bit of salt on his tail!" (see full song lyrics here). In a book called "Ogopogo: The True Story of the Okanagan Lake Million Dollar Monster", author Arlene Gaal tells of how a Vancouver Province reporter named Ronald Kenvyn composed a song which parodied the popular British ditty which included the following stanza:

  • His mother was an earwig;
  • His father was a whale;
  • A little bit of head and hardly any tail
  • And Ogopogo was his name.

The name Ogopogo stuck and the original Native name N'ha-a-itk was replaced by the anglicized version of the name. The City of Vernon, located on Lake Okanagan, had originally obtained the rights to use the Ogopogo name, however the legal rights to "Ogopogo" were transferred to the Okanagan Nation Alliance by the City of Vernon in October 2021.

Is Lake Okanagan home to the elusive Ogopogo?