BESSIE: (USA – CANADA)

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One of the most vicious lake cryptids ever chronicled, this creature is said to be responsible for three deaths in 1992 and there are some who believe that its offspring have recently emerged murky depths of Lake Erie in order to feed on unwary swimmers.

Bordering on Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada’s Ontario Province, Lake Erie is one of the five, freshwater, inland seas known as the Great Lakes. Nestled between Lake Ontario and Lake Huron, this gigantic body of water harbors a multitude of secrets, and not surprisingly… one of them is said to be a monster.

First reported on July 7, 1817, by the crew of a passing schooner, the animal has been described as a dark mahogany, nearly black, serpentine creature, with a diamond shaped head and an approximate length of over 40-feet. Based on this description, “Bessie” – as the animal has come to be known – would seem to have all the earmarks of a prototypical SEA-SERPENT.

That having been said, there are alternate reports which claim that the animal is more sturgeon-like in appearance (much like Russia’s BAIKAL LAKE MONSTER, with the exception of a pair of arm-like appendages, which eyewitnesses have described as flailing.

The first men who ever encountered this beast, were two French Brothers who had settled in the area named Dusseau. The brothers, both fishermen, were returning home late in the evening on July 7, 1817, with the day’s catch, when one of the men spotted something writhing on the shoreline.

Later described as a “phosphorescent mass”, the animal was depicted as being sturgeon-like in shape with a serpentine tail, silvery scales and long “arms.” The brother’s watched as the creature apparently died.

Terrified by the apparition before them, the Dusseau brothers decided to go for help. When they returned a short time later armed with ropes and a small posse, the fish-beast had disappeared, leaving nothing but deep claw marks on the beach where it had apparently dragged itself back into the surf. The men collected some of the creature’s scales, which they claimed were as large as silver dollars, as trophies.

This fascinating tale aside, Lake Erie can boast the only known account regarding the capture of a genuine, living, breathing “monster”. The event occurred off the shores of Sandusky, Ohio and was first reported in the July 22, 1931, edition of the New York Times, which read:

“SANDUSKY, Ohio, July 21 (AP) – Inside a tightly boarded box beside the lakeshore tonight was locked what several persons said was a large marine animal having specifications that might qualify it as a serpent, claimed to have been captured by two Cincinnati fisherman in Sandusky Bay.”

“The fisherman, Clifford Wilson and Francis Cogenstose of Cincinnati, said that the ‘serpent,’ measuring about twenty feet long and about twelve inches through at the thickest place, arose late today out of the Lake Erie waters beside their boat. Although frightened by the beast, they said, they hit it over the head twice with an oar and knocked it senseless, then fastened a line to its head and towed it to shore.”

“Their catch began to show signs of returning consciousness when they got it on the beach, Wilson and Cogenstose said, so they obtained a packing box 6 feet long, 3 feet wide and about 2 feet deep and coiled Mr. Sea-Serpent into it and nailed it tightly shut. Neither the ‘owners’ nor any of the scores of curious who gathered about the box would take a chance on opening it to show the serpent to the scoffers, who were numerous.”

“Police Captain Leo Schively, E.L. Ways, managing editor of a local afternoon paper, and C.J. Irwin and Mel Harmon of a Sandusky morning paper said that they saw the serpent as it was being boxed up and joined the fisherman in describing it as a huge, snake-like beast, colored black, dark green and white and having a hide resembling that of an alligator. The ‘owners’ were undecided tonight what they were going to do with it. The reported capture came after a number of persons had reported sighting a ‘sea-serpent’ hereabouts.”

Unfortunately, as happens in far too many of these cases, the report ends there. One can only assume that the animal was sold to the nearest traveling carnival rather than being deposited into responsible, scientific hands.

But even considering the bases covered by these two decidedly different (yet equally interesting) interpretations of Bessie, there are others who insist the animal is less a sturgeon-like or reptilian and more akin to a Gaussian lamprey eel, complete with a rounded, suction cup mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. If the later were true it might link this phenomenon with the predatory, eel-like creatures – collectively known as CRESSIE, which are said to lurk in the icy depths of Newfoundland’s Crescent Lake.

Whatever the animal (or animals) may be, there is one thing that’s for sure, the beast that lurks in Lake Erie is not nearly as charming as its European counterparts. In fact, this creature could be described as downright nasty.

In the summer of 2001, during a 24 hour period, no less than three people reported being bitten by an aquatic animal which has come to be known as the LAKE ERIE CHOMPER. One of this creature’s victims, a young boy who’s identity has not been revealed, required hospitalization for the injuries he sustained while swimming with his father.

In July of 1991, John Kraft – while vacation in a cottage on the shores of Lake Erie – was attempting to take a photograph when his wife saw something strange moving in the lake. Kraft later described the exhilarating moment in an interview:

“I was framing the sunset with a tree branch and after I had finished my picture taking I sat down with my mother-in-law, wife and my brother-in-law and about five minutes later my wife said to me, ‘John, look out about 100 yards, there appears to be some men in wet suits, about 8 to 10 men swimming.’

And since I had a telephoto lens on my camera, because of the sunset picture taking I zoomed in on it and it wasn’t men in wet suits. It was, I don’t know what it was, but for lack of a better name, I call it a monster fish. I could see its head and the neck went under the water, could see the top of the body and could actually see the fotilla action of the tail.

I took two pictures of it and handed the camera to my wife so she could see closeup… It looked like a snake. You know, where the head came up out of the water. It pretty difficult to describe. It didn’t have any fins. It had the head of a snake or an eel maybe.”

That same summer, George Repicz claimed to have captured on videotape the creature  swiming in Lake Erie off a family camp on Kelley’s Island. This footage remains elusive.

As if these accounts were not terrifying enough, there is another report of a colossal aquatic animal, who’s head was described as being “as large as a car,” which purportedly killed three people in 1992.

There remains to this day a reward offered for a humane capture of the living creature known as “Bessie.”

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