Over the past 40 years, there have been numerous reported sightings of an unusual animal in Turtle Lake, located in West-central Saskatchewan. Natives call it Big Fish. Descriptions, however, vary widely. Some say it is three meters long and others say it is 10 meters long. Some say it is black or a brown… or green. Some say it has a dorsal fin like a shark; some say it is sleek like an otter. Often the Turtle Lake Monster is reported to tear apart fishermen’s nets, to terrorize boaters, and to scatter schools of fish. One thing is definite: the lack of certainty about its appearance has not inhibited local entrepreneurs from selling monster burgers and monster hats on the shore of this pretty lake.
Check this 2001 description for Dave Yanko:
“There’s something strange and mysterious in Turtle Lake. The fish aren’t talking. And judging by the descriptions from the people who’ve seen it, it’s anywhere from three to nine metres in length (10 to 30 feet), with or without a dorsal fin, smooth or scaly, with a head resembling either a dog, a seahorse or a pig.”
It’s no new phenomenon to Turtle Lake, located 120 kms (74 miles) northwest of North Battleford. It’s been there for as long as anyone can remember -well before the lakeside bar might have provided an explanation. Indian legend holds that people who ventured into its territory were never seen again.
No one’s blamed it for any recent disappearances. Again, the fish aren’t talking. But each year, on average, one boater returns to shore with a wide-eyed tale about a goose-bumpy encounter with something from the deep. Something with mass. Something big.
It’s not a large tourist attraction like “Nessy”, of Loch Ness, Scotland, or “Ogopogo”, of Lake Okanagan in British Columbia. Yes, there is the odd ball cap and restaurant place mat signaling the unusual occurrences to unwary visitors. But it’s a low-key thing; local color rather than feature attraction at the small, resort community.
Saskatchewan people are a down-to-earth lot uncomfortable about hyping something they believe has to have a simple, rational explanation. Many think it’s nothing more than a giant sturgeon who, by choice or circumstance, abandoned his normal river habitat for Turtle Lake.
But there’s a problem with that one. Although sturgeon can live to be 65 years old and grow to four metres (12 feet) in length, they live and feed on the bottom. It’s not likely they’d choose to loll about on the surface of a deep lake. Not impossible, but not likely.
A former school teacher from the region has another theory.
Millions of years ago, Saskatchewan was covered by a sea. In that body of water lived a variety of aquatic dinosaurs, including one called plesiosaur. Perhaps, says Ben Blatz, a few plesiosaurs adapted and survived in the depths of Turtle Lake. And one of their descendants is responsible for frightening the tan off the occasional boater.
Perhaps. A few years ago I talked to a man who saw it while fishing with his daughter and grandson.
Gordon Watt, who farms about 200 kms south of Turtle Lake, was casting from his boat when he spotted something in the water about 12 meters (13 yards) off the bow.
“Its head came up, its back came up and it sort of rolled over -we never saw the tail,” he said. “Its head looked like a seahorse.”
Members of the fishing party were “thunderstruck” and “amazed”, said Watt. Yet, once their astonishment subsided, they cranked up the boat motor, zipped over to the area where the thing slipped under and tried to snag it.
Could have been quite a ride.
Watt said maybe it was a sturgeon, “but I’m not convinced.”
What creature lurks in Turtle Lake? Saskatchewan folks will tell you it’s The Turtle Lake Monster. For the time being, that’s the best answer we’ve got because the fish aren’t talking.