Case File: Champ
Location: Lake Champlain near Burlington, Vermont
Description: Champ is described as a large reptile-like creature that swims in Lake Champlain. It is believed to be similar to the Loch Ness Monster.
History: Champ is the name of a mysterious creature of large size said to live in Lake Champlain between Vermont and New York. It's existence dates back to the time when Native Americans lived in the area, but over the years, the creature has become a lot more than a creature of legend but something of an American version of Nessie. There have been hundreds of reported sightings since explorer Samuel Champlain first described the creature in his exploration of the lake.
Champ gained enormous popularity in 1979 after getting photographed by Sandra Mansi. She had grown up near Lake Champlain, and her grandfather teased her with tales of Champ. the legendary sea creature. In July 1977, Sandra, her two children, and her fiancé, Tony, were on vacation near Lake Champlain when they noticed a disturbance on the lake. Sandra reported seeing a head and the neck come up out of the water. Realizing she had a camera, she managed to get one photo of it before it vanished.
Fearing public ridicule, she did not come forward with the photograph for over two years. When she did come forward, she gave the photograph to author Joe Zarzynsky, who wrote a book about Champ. He sent the print to the University of Arizona to be analyzed by crypto-zoologist Richard Greenwell. He comments: "We digitized it and ran all sorts of computer enhancement techniques. We were looking for pulleys or ropes or anything like that, superimpositions, but we found no evidence of hoaxing, and we concluded that the object, whatever it is, was there in the lake, at that estimated distance. It wasn't any sort of superimposition."
"The object in the Mansi photograph resembles a plesiosaur..." Greenwell says. "...An aquatic reptile from the Cretaceous about 60-70 million years ago with a long neck and flippers. It resembles that, but that's a long time to have survived."
Another idea is that Champ might be a zeuglodon, a snake-like whale extinct for twenty million years or a lake sturgeon, which have been known to reach seven feet in length. Further examination of the Mansi photo is difficult since she lost the negatives, but dozens of eyewitnesses have reported sightings of Champ.
On July 7, 1988, Walter and Sandi Tappan and their daughter Heidi, were out on Lake Champlain with a camcorder to look for Champ. That night, not far from their boat, they caught about twenty to thirty seconds of humps gliding on the water. Sandi described seeing a neck and head come up and look at her before sinking into the water. However, one expert who looked at their footage believes they only caught a school of fish.
Extra Notes: This case originally ran on the September 23, 1992 episode.
Champ has also been featured on "Destination Truth," "Monsterquest," and "Sightings."