'Champ' Sighted On Lake
Champlain 16 Times In
2000 - Mystery Remains
By Lohr McKinstry - Staff Writer

WILLSBORO - A sighting of Champ - the legendary Lake Champlain monster - this fall in Willsboro Bay startled a woman as she ate breakfast at her summer home.
Seasonal resident Elizabeth Wilkins told the Press-Republican this week that she saw a large humped, crocodile-like creature swimming in the lake Nov. 26 and quickly grabbed a pair of binoculars to get a better look.
"It appeared to be about 30 or 40 feet long," Wilkins said. "After about 20 minutes, it slowly began to move northward, leaving a fine wake behind."
Wilkins took a photograph of the creature that shows a long, dark outline in the water, with a duck swimming off to one side.
"A large group of seagulls flying overhead were very disturbed by this, as were the ducks attempting to swim near it," she said.
"When it got in front of Klein,s Marina, it slowly disappeared underwater."
The 7 a.m. sighting was one of 16 this year, with the other 15 tracked by Champ Quest, the Panton, VT-based non-profit group that monitors Champ's activities.
The first sighting was June 12 off Panton, VT. Other sightings were around Port Henry, Westport and Port Kent on the New York side and Ferrisburgh, Charlotte, Savage Island and Isle la Motte on the Vermont side of the lake.
Champ Quest Director Dennis Hall said he personally saw Champ while investigating the July 23 sighting near Panton, VT.
"I was conducting the search from Button Bay around 5 p.m. My eye picked up movement between Rock Island and the shore," Hall said.
"The movement, quick and distant, still stood the hairs up on my neck. I quickly began to videotape. Over a four-minute period, a single Champtany, stuck its neck straight out of the water and remained on the surface long enough for me to zoom in while the camera was on a tripod.
"It bent its neck and looked like its neck was contracting in a vertical manner, like trying to swallow something. The animal, after a few minutes, quickly disappeared under the water."
There was another sighting two days later, Nov. 28, by the Essex-Charlotte ferry crew.
It's not that unusual to see Champ so late in the season, Hall said, although he does believe the creature hibernates in the winter.
"It was quite a warm period for late in November," he said.
"The past few years, the lake has cooled to below 50 and then warmed back up, only to cool down again. Maybe in anticipation of such an event, Champtany isn't going into a full hibernation as quickly as they were able to before global warming."
There is something in the lake, Hall believes, or so many people wouldn't report seeing it.
"Since 1609, there have been over 600 reported sightings. Samuel de Champlain, while on his voyage of discovery, reported seeing a large animal in the lake," he said.
"The most frequently asked question is: What is Champ? I have described what I,ve seen as a lizard-like, long-necked animal with four legs and feet, a forked tongue, omits a hissing noise, loves the shallow waters, eats small fish and is about 12 inches at birth and 20 feet or more full-grown. And very ugly."
Wilkins said the creature she saw astounded her.
"What startled me first was the commotion all the seagulls were making out there," she said. "I thought, "What's going on here?", and I looked out.
"Then I saw it. Our camp is directly on the water. It's elevated; that's how I could see it so well. He lay there sort of still in the water for at least 15 minutes."
The ducks nearby would not approach the shape, she said.
"The thing moved northward in a straight line. It humped up in the middle. Its skin looked just like crocodile skin; it was rough. As it moved, it left a little wake behind it.
"I've never seen anything like it."

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