Located in the wilds of Victoria, British Columbia, near the community of Colwood, the relatively small body of water known as Thetis Lake is the reputed home of a legendarily voracious, razor-finned, quasi-humanoid.
Compared by some cryptozoologists to the notorious GREEN CLAWED BEAST and the LOVELAND FROGMEN of the Ohio River area, this unique cryptid would seem to represent a bizarre Darwinian bridge between the bipedal primates — which currently infest the Earth — and their amphibious cousins who never seemed to have the same tenacity when it came to climbing the evolutionary ladder.
First brought to international attention in the early 1970’s, this grisly aberration of natural selection has been described as being nearly 5-feet tall and weighing approximately 120 lbs., with an epidermis consisting solely of silver, fish-like scales. This animal’s horrifying visage is made complete by the six, razor-sharp spikes — connected to one another by thin, membranous webbing — which are said to protrude from its amphibious skull.
With its dark, bulbous eyes, fish-like mouth and allegedly webbed hands, feet and ears, the Thetis Lake Monster bears more than a passing resemblance to the iconoclastic image of “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.”
What lends credibility to these reports however, is the fact that for centuries North American natives have reported numerous — and oft times fatal — face to face encounters with various creatures which they describe as being carnivorous, aquatic-humanoids.
These man-like anomalies purportedly lurked in the mist shrouded lakes and rivers of the Pacific northwest. One of the beasts chronicled in these Native American legends was the Pugwis, which reputedly tormented the Kwakiutl Indians of the Puget Sound region for years. These accounts, of course, vastly pre-date the Thetis Lake Monster as well as its cinematic counterpart.
On August 19, 1972, the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) launched a brief investigation into this phenomenon after two teenage boys – 16-year old Robin Flewellyn and 17-year old Gordon Pike — claimed to have been attacked by the creature while cavorting on the shores of Thetis Lake.
According to the two witnesses, they were standing on the beach near the Thetis lake recreational center when they both saw a spontaneous swelling of water just off the shoreline. Suddenly, the monstrous head and silver-scaled torso of this creature rose from the lake and shot from the churning surf toward the two terrified teens.
Within seconds, the bizarre beast was hot on the heels of the boys, who — fearing for their lives — immediately sprinted toward their parked car. As the duo jumped into the vehicle, one of them noticed the being lunging forward. He claimed to have felt an intense pain in his hand as they slammed the car doors and hastily drove away, leaving the scaly fiend in their dusty wake.
After narrowly escaping this vicious predator, Flewellyn and Pike made their way to the nearest RCMP station, where the injured — yet surprisingly unspecified — teen displayed a laceration across his hand, which he claimed was the result of contact with the spike-like fin that adorned the HYBRID BEAST’S skull.
The officers on duty were so impressed by the sincerity of the young men’s tale that a manhunt (or monster-hunt, as the case may be) was immediately launched. According to one of the investigating officers:
“The boys seem sincere, and until we determine otherwise we have no alternative but to continue our investigation.”
Sadly, nothing was turned up on that occasion and the investigation was summarily concluded. That was until just four days later, at approximately 3:30 pm. on the 23rd of August, when the beast reared its ghastly head yet again.
This time the creature — which uncannily matched previous descriptions — was spotted by 12-year old Mike Gold and 14-year old Russell Van Nice, who were fishing on the opposite side of the lake.
Unlike the encounter of the previous week, these witnesses claimed that the creature merely rose out of the water, looked around, then submerged. The boys further maintained that they did not linger long enough to see whether or not the beast would manifest its previously displayed tendency of aggressive anti-human behavior. According to one of the boys:
“It came out of the water and looked around. Then it went back into the water. Then we ran! Its body was silver and shaped like an ordinary body, like a human being body, but it had a monster face, and it was all scaly with a point sticking out of its head and great big ears and horrifying eyes.”
The RCMP re-launched their investigation of this unusual phenomenon with vigor, but hard evidence remained elusive. The lack of proof notwithstanding, it wasn’t long before this UNCLASSIFIED creature made headlines in the Victoria Daily Times, wherein an artist was commissioned to ender the first “official” portrait of the monster. From there tales of the “gill man” quickly spread across the globe.
According to Wikipedia, on August 26th, 1972, a newspaper called The Province allegedly received a phone call from a man who claimed to have lost his pet tegu lizard near Thetis Lake the previous year. The article further asserted that this pet lizard — which can grow up to 3-feet in length and is indigenous to the exceedingly warm climate of Latin America – was the entity responsible for the “monster” sightings.
The article did not explain how the witnesses in question mistook a striped, four-legged tengu lizard for a silver-scaled, bipedal fish-man, nor did it state how said reptile could survive a harsh British Columbia winter in the wild.
Ironically, crypto-skeptic and editor of the Junior Skeptic magazine, Daniel Loxton, wasn’t satisfied with the theory that a pet teju was loose either. He spoke with a Royal B.C. Museum expert, who claimed the South American lizard likely would not have lived through a Victoria winter. Officially debunking that theory.
Next Loxton managed to track down a 49-year old Russell Van Nice — one of the young boys involved in the second sighting in ’72 — who decided to renege on his original testimony, claiming:
“It was just a big lie… [Mike Gold was] trying to get attention.”
Assuming that the quote is authentic, then perhaps it serves as the final epitaph for this magnificently mysterious monster. But even if it is a genuine citation, one simply cannot underestimate the social and economic toll that being involved with an incident such as the extracts from an individual. The years of ridicule and negative press would be enough for anyone to want to wash their hands of their encounter with the unknown.
That having been stated, one also cannot dismiss the fact that there was a second pair of witnesses — one of whom was severely injured by the creature — who claimed to have encountered this fiend first. Is it possible that Van Nice is telling the truth and that he and Gold were nothing more than a couple of middle school kids trying to hop on the popularity bandwagon by claiming that they too saw the beast? Perhaps, but either way it in no way invalidates the claims made by Flewellyn and Pike.
Whether the Thetis Lake Monster was a hoax or a genuine brush with an anomalous animal that once stalked local natives, the fact remains that as the weeks lingered on and summer gave way to autumn there were no further reported sightings of the Thetis Lake Monster and the RCMP was forced to close the files on this frightening, fascinating and ferocious AQUATIC ENIGMA.
© Copyright Rob Morphy 2002 — 2011