by Roy Andrew
200 miles SW of Anchorage across the Alaska Mountain Range is Lake Iliamna. It is the largest freshwater lake in Alaska. It’s about 95 miles long and 25 miles wide. There are numerous islands out there with trees and breeding grounds for ducks and seagulls. The lake is deep and blue. Its personality is ever changing with the seasons, storms, the coming of the Bristol Bay Run every summer and huge. An inland marine environment in its own class.
During the summers, the lake becomes the largest spawning ground for Sockeye Salmon in Bristol Bay and the world. The lake becomes one big mirror when it’s flat calm out there. In other days, storms rage over the lake with whiteouts, fog saturating and blanketing everything. The lake freezes over in the winters marked with jagged pressure cracks which go on for miles. People have gone out there and disappeared never to be seen again. The lake is beautiful and deadly.
The lake is mysterious, with unknown sea creatures, strange sightings of deep sea monsters seen throughout the years. Sightings change from a white creature following dog mushers under the frozen ice to something large and black, moving in the deep waters. The creatures appear unexpectedly, with no sense of rhythm nor understanding to the lake residents.
One of those rare sightings took place at Kokhanok in the morning about 9:30 AM in early August of 2003. I was walking along the shoreline when I saw a small group of 7 people near the water’s edge looking out towards the 3 Mile Island. I wondered why they were all quiet. I looked out and saw this unusual black fin skimming the water’s surface heading towards the village in an oblique angle. The lake was flat calm that morning.
It was over a mile out, with huge, thin fins sticking out at least 8-foot high for what looked like at least 350-400-foot long. It was an unknown black tone color. Its sides were very smooth, with only the fin sticking out gliding through the surface. We stood there in shock, wondering what kind of monster was swimming towards the Point, the land sticking out like a triangle.
Its shape and size was nothing that we could compare it to. It was in a class all of its very own in the world, possibly a remnant from the old earth; prehistorical age having survived and lived this long in Lake Iliamna. It was distinctive in shape, origin and historically unique.
We watched it for about 15 minutes slowly gliding in towards the Point. A couple of guys got on their Honda and rode down to the Point to get a better view of it. Then it slowly sank back down into the deep, dark waters of the lake and disappeared from sight.
Afterwards, this sensation overcame me that I had just encountered something so unreal, unfathomable and unexplainable. What was it? Where did it come from? Did we have a deep-sea monster from the prehistoric Dinosaur Age living in this lake all this time?