Unknown Victoria

Victoria: The Unknown City is a guidebook to an eccentric town on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. This is the author's blog. Look here for Victoria lore, updates and additions to the book, and hate mail.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Gill Man of Thetis Lake

Cadborosaurus isn’t the only monster that’s been sighted in waters around Victoria. On August 22, 1972, the Victoria Daily Times reported that two teenage boys were chased from the beach at Thetis Lake by an animal “roughly triangular in shape, about five feet high and five feet across the base.” In addition, one of the boys said he had been cut on one hand, “by six razor-sharp points on the monster’s head.” A few days later, two more boys said they’d seen a similar creature swimming in the lake, “shaped like a human body,” but with “a monster face” and “covered with scales.”

The mystery was solved soon afterward. On August 26, the Province newspaper said police got a call from a man who’d lost a teju lizard (below left) in the area the previous year. Tejus, which are native to South America and often kept as pets (their mottled black-and-white skins are also used for cowboy boots), grow up to three feet long. The police decided the lizard matched the monster’s description, and closed the case.

Since teju lizards live for about 15 years, the one in Thetis Lake is likely dead by now – although W. Haden Blackman suggested in his 1998 Field Guide to North American Monsters that something's still lurking around. “If you do come across it, remember these kind of creatures are all considered extremely dangerous,” wrote Blackman, who told would-be hunters to carry a flaming torch to prevent an attack – a bit of advice far more deadly in the tinder-dry park than any old reptile.

UPDATE (November 17, 2009): Daniel Loxton, the Victoria-based editor of the kid-friendly Junior Skeptic magazine, has been hot on the trail of the Thetis Lake Monster ... and he suggests that nothing was in the lake at all back in 1972.

Loxton wasn’t satisfied with the theory that a pet teju was loose. He spoke with a Royal B.C. Museum expert, who said the South American lizard probably wouldn’t have survived a Victoria winter. Loxton also noted a strange coincidence: a week before the first sighting, local TV station CHEK broadcast Monster From The Surf (aka Beach Girls and The Monster), a B-movie about a gill-man with a triangular head attacking teenagers. Watch the goofy trailer:

Then, in an investigative coup, Loxton tracked down one of the boys involved in the second sighting. Now 49 years old, the guy confessed that the story “was just a big lie,” cooked up by his friend to get attention.

So why does the legend endure? Loxton says it’s mainly because cryptozoologists (mystery-creature researchers) have continued to write about it, embellishing the descriptions over the years with details like “webbed hands,” giving the story a realism not found in the original news reports. The lesson for young readers, Loxton says, is that “cryptozoologists don’t do their homework.” But the publicity hasn’t hurt: thanks to those writers, the Thetis Lake Monster was immortalized as a plastic figurine by a Japanese toy company in 2002.


At 7:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at Thetis lake on camp out on the big island. well my friends went for a store run and when they got back to the boat. they say a monster bigger then the boat jumped off the land were it was resting and in to the water then cased them back the the island.

At 11:36 AM, Blogger ross said...

Who were your friends who had this encounter? When did it happen? I would love to know more details. Please email me so we can discuss it further!

At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I call bullshit!

At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Jon said...

The Thetis Lake Monster is cool. I'am going to look for the beast tommorow all round the lake.

At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

many persons i know have seen the theitus lake monster.in farfeild on aporch eating cat food moss st i was told.esquamult lagoon in an old building at royal roads.lost lake in blinksop valley.nanimo river fishing caught it on the line.i beleive it lives in the lakes in beacon hill park and moves around using the creeks and lakes .there would have to be lots of them for there to be breeding population

At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Thetis Lake Monster Investigator said...

I believe that this creature is authentic, I'am inclined to think it is a derivative of the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp in Bishopville, SC. I'am trying to gather all reports of sightings of this legendary creature. If anyone has any information on the Thetis Lake Monster, email me at ThetisLakeMonster@hotmail.com

At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think it dosnt exist but i would love gill man to exist.

At 11:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's still alive! http://www.worldfishingnetwork.com/users/jesse-martin/blog/the-thetis-lake-monster-a-first-hand-encounter-147473.aspx

At 8:14 AM, Anonymous Scott said...

Greetings! I am building a website dedicated to solving urban legends starting with this one because I live near by, I would love to hear peoples eye-witness accounts on this creature, to help solidify my research! If you would like to share your story, please, feel free to share your story @ scottboszak@live.ca

At 10:13 PM, Anonymous Vui said...

It's a joke !


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