Ogopogo or Naitaka (Salish: n’ha-a-itk, “lake demon”) is the name given to a cryptid lake monster reported to live in Okanagan Lake, in British Columbia, Canada. Ogopogo has been allegedly seen by First Nations people since the 19th century. The most common description of Ogopogo is a 40 to 50-foot-long (12 to 15 m) sea serpent. Lake monster investigator Benjamin Radford notes “however, that these First Nations stories were not referring to a literal lake monster like Ogopogo, but instead to a legendary water spirit. The supernatural N’ha-a-itk of the Okanagan Valley Indians is long gone.”
British cryptozoologist Karl Shuker has categorized the Ogopogo as a ‘many hump’ variety of lake monster, and suggested it may be a kind of primitive serpentine whale such as Basilosaurus. However, because the physical evidence for the beast is limited to unclear photographs and film, it has also been suggested that the sightings are misidentifications of common animals, such as otters, and inanimate objects, such as floating logs.
In 1926 a sighting is claimed to have occurred at an Okanagan Mission beach. This event was supposedly witnessed by about thirty cars of people who all claimed to have seen the same thing. In 1968 Art Folden filmed what is claimed to be footage of the alleged creature, showing a large wake moving across the water. A computer analysis of the footage concluded it was a solid, three-dimensional object. Folden noticed “something large and lifelike”; in the distance out on the calm water and pulled out his home movie camera to capture the object. An investigation conducted by Benjamin Radford with Joe Nickell and John Kirk for the National Geographic Channel TV show Is It Real?, in 2005 revealed that the object Folden filmed was indeed a real animal but its size had been greatly overestimated. It was probably a water fowl or beaver too far away to be identified.
In 2011, a cell phone video captured two dark shapes in the water. A suggested explanation is that the video shows two logs. Radford analyzed the video for Discovery News and concluded that “The video quality is poor and the camera is shaky, but a closer look at the 30-second video reveals that, instead of one long object, there are actually two shorter ones, and they seem to be floating next to each other at slightly different angles. There are no humps, nor head, nor form; only two long, darkish, more or less straight forms that appear to be a few dozen feet long. In short, they look a lot like floating logs, which would not be surprising since Lake Okanagan has tens of thousands of logs harvested by the timber industry harvested floating just under the lake’s surface.”
The name “ogopogo” originates from a 1924 English music hall song called “The Ogo-Pogo: The Funny Fox-Trot”, by Cumberland Clark and Mark Strong.
Karl Shuker said about the song:
[T]he cover portrayed a boot-wearing, antenna-sporting, banjo-playing, pixie-like monster from Hindustan – all far removed indeed from Canada’s serpentiform cryptid. Nevertheless, it was this very sheet music that had originated one of the most familiar of all modern-day cryptid nicknames (previously, the Lake Okanagan monster had been known as the naitaka – a traditional native American name given to it by the local Okanakane tribe).