The smackdown happened in June 2007, and in its wake, comes the new Champ interactions.
It will be recalled in the otter competitive battle between the forces of good and evil, the following war near the water (versus a rumble in the jungle) occurred on CNN’s “Paula Zahn Now,” for June 1, 2007. The topic was a new video allegedly showing Nessie, which was run in the final moments of her program. It was originally scheduled to be five minutes long, but Joe Nickell and I were cut short by an earlier story, as is often the case.
At the time, my old coauthor buddy Jerry Clark noted that what was operating here, in counterpoint to my view, was: The Nickell principle: “We will take up an existence by its otters.”
Coincidentially, another good friend, Anomalist Books publisher Patrick Huyghe emailed me: “Joe was otterly ridiculous.”
Hey, what are friends for, if not to support one another with an otter side of humor, humm?
Now, fast forward to 2009. The splashy sumo wrestling continues regarding the new Lake Champlain footage.
“Joe Nickell, a cryptozoologist in Amherst, N.Y., says his best guess is that the object was a moose calf.” ~ NECN
What is amusing is that, regarding the new Eric Olsen “Champ video,” Nickell has now been quoted, not as a skeptic, but as a “cryptozoologist” by the Associated Press. He allegedly told NECN/AP that the new Lake Champlain footage looks like a “young moose.”
Meanwhile, I have been correctly characterized as a “cryptozoologist” by the media, but sometimes my careful and skeptical cryptozoological approach to this new video ~ even considering it might be an otter or a super-otter ~ have been ignored by reporters.
Needless to say, the media enjoy quoting my cryptozoologist point-of-view to counterbalance the skeptic’s broadly debunking approach. I’d even wage that Joe Nickell (a “moose calf”) and Ben Radford (he’s now appeared claiming the animal in the 2009 video is “an elk* or deer in the water”) occupy a position closer to the middle than reported in the media. Maybe not, but I think they might. Likewise people are missing that I have also stated and do consider,
1) this is, first and foremost, an interesting piece of footage that deserves further investigation;
2) I know moose, deer, and dogs, in the water and out, and the absence of ears does seem to indicate this animate object is not one of them;
3) this could be a misidentified otter, beaver, muskrat, turtle**, or out-of-place harbor seal (as I have written before, there are records for Lake Champlain of a few seals appearing there); or
4) it could just be and might have to remain a “lake cryptid” (Darren Naish’s Long-Necked Seal? Heuvelman’s Super-Otter? Coleman-Huyghe’s Waterhorse?) because we will never be able to definitively identify this animal from the cellphone camera footage.
5) Therefore, I remain open-minded, and, yes, enthusiastic in my typical cryptozoological fashion (hey, I know myself) about continuing an ongoing look at this footage to see if more can be “seen” and learned from it.
Bernard Heuvelmans’ Super-Otter compared to an image from Eric Olsen’s new footage:
Full disclosure, stay with me here…this may be a humorous surprise for some of you. Make certain you take all the right books and field guides with you this year when you go looking for “monsters”!
I coauthored Cryptozoology A to Z (NY: Simon and Schuster) with Jerome Clark in 1999.
I coauthored The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep (NY: Tarcher/Penguin) with Patrick Huyghe in 2003.
I wrote the Foreword to Lake Monster Mysteries: Investigating the World’s Most Elusive Creatures by Benjamin Radford and Joe Nickell, published in 2006 by the University Press of Kentucky.
*If there are any free-ranging populations of elk or wapiti (Cervus canadensis) in Vermont, they would be introduced and may be limited to the Northeast Kingdom (the small, upper northern corner of the state near Canada). There may be elk farms near Burlington, but then this gets into the old chestnut about an escaped captive animal.
**A large turtle might demonstrate some of the same characteristic submerging and have a similar profile for this animal. I was reminded of my early consideration of this option by Endroren. Determining the size of the phonecam object is key to assisting in looking at this possibility, although the rather long neck shown on the Olsen object sometimes seems unturtlelike.