The Iliamna Lake Monster

In the small fishing village of Iliamna, Alaska there are whispers of a monster of unimaginable size lurking beneath the waves of one of the largest lakes in the United States continent. The native Tlingit people of the area used to call this monster “Gonakadet” and described it as a large sea creature with the head and tail of a wolf, but the body of an orca.

In the world of cryptozoology (the study of undiscovered animals) lake monsters are nearly a dime a dozen. There is something about a deep murky lake that strikes a mystery and fear into the hearts of humans, and stories of lake monsters stretch back beyond recorded history. Though many, if not all, of us have heard tales of the famous Loch Ness Monster, not much is known about whatever creature lurks at the bottom of Lake Iliamna.

Though the indigenous people told stories about the monster, sightings were not recorded until 1942 when Bebe Alyesworth and Bill Hammersley reported seeing a large silvery fish in the water from their plane above. Since this part of Alaska is very remote, it is usually only reached by plane, and majority of sightings have come from the air. Once in 1967 a missionary reported that, after spotting the beast from his seaplane, he attempted to capture it. He landed his plane on the water, let out large hooks, and actually managed to lure something in the dark waters. However, the creature would not be caught so easily. After dragging his plane around on the water for several hours and nearly capsizing it, the creature got away.

The lake is connected to a river that reaches the ocean, and sometimes porpoises, such as beluga whales, have been known to travel into the large body of water. Though there are many theories about what is causing the sightings, such as belugas, large schools of fish, and giant sleeper sharks, there is no known explanation for the numerous sightings. Some have described it as being the color of “aluminum” and others have described it as being black with a white stripe.

Neither of these descriptions sound anything like a beluga whale, but it does sound an awful lot like a white sturgeon, which is the largest freshwater fish in North America. The animals can grow up to twenty feet long and live over a hundred years. Animal Planet did a special on the monster on their hit show River Monsters, and concluded that the reports were, in fact, the white sturgeon. But that still doesn’t explain the almost orca like description of other reports.

Despite the show having come to a conclusion, many still believe the true Iliamna Monster is something far more terrifying than a large silver fish or an overgrown sleeper shark. All that is known for certain is that something massive lurks at the bottom of the lake, and only time will tell if it is a fish or a monster.

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