The Centre for Fortean Zoology was founded in the UK in 1992 - nearly 20 years ago. Over the past two decades it has expanded to become a truly global organisation. We opened our American office in 2001, our Australian office in 2009, and now - in our 19th year - we are proud to welcome CFZ Canada to the CFZ global family.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

The Lake Utopia Monster

By Stephen Turnbull

Located in Charlotte County, New Brunswick, Canada there is a small lake, called Lake Utopia (45° 10′ 48″ N, 66° 47′ 24″ W). This lake is about 7 km long and less than 3 km at its widest point. The northern basin is about 30 metres deep with the average depth being around 11 metres. In comparison, Loch Ness in Scotland (57° 18′ 0″ N, 4° 27′ 0″ W) is over 36 km in length, under 3 km at its widest point, and has an average depth of over 130 metres (maximum depth of over 200 metres). However, the two lakes have two things in common. Both are at similar latitudes and both are said to harbour an unknown creature!

Everyone is familiar with Nessie or the Loch Ness Monster, but few people outside the local area of Lake Utopia or in the field of cryptozoology have heard about the Lake Utopia Monster. While Nessie is often described as looking like a plesiosaur, the Lake Utopia Monster, or what the locals call “Old Ned,” has been described as being serpentine or eel-like, or even cetacean-like in appearance, perhaps greater than 13 metres in length.

An article that originally ran in 1872 in Canadian Illustrated News provided a diagram of what some witnesses reported seeing.

Stories about its existence by Natives pre-date the arrival of the Europeans but the first documented account appears in 1867. In 1868, many believed the Lake Utopia Monster had been killed! Harper’s Weekly ran an article that a mysterious sea serpent was killed in Passamaquoddy Bay. It was reported to have a dorsal fin and a flat tail like a shark.

An artists drawing that accompanied the article clearly shows a basking shark and the hind limbs

were likely claspers from what was likely a male basking shark. It was thought to be trying to cross land and make its way into Lake Utopia. Sightings still continued after this incidence.

Norma Stewart has documented the sightings of this animal for over 25 years, and the last reported sighting was in 2000. Stewart believes the animal travels back and forth between Lake Utopia and the Atlantic Ocean, appearing every 3-5 years, as if on some kind of breeding or feeding cycle. Because of this movement between the ocean and freshwater, she refers to it as a sea monster, that may even be amphibious and have lungs. The fact that the animal may be migratory helps debunk the skeptic argument that the lake could not sustain an animal (or animals) the size of the Old Ned.

How does the animal migrate between a freshwater lake and the ocean if it is not amphibious and has lungs? St. George is a small town close to Lake Utopia. The Magaguadavic River (river of eels) is connected to Lake Utopia through a deep canal and the river flows through St. George to Passamaquoddy Bay and the sea beyond. While the Magaguadavic River is dammed in St. George, it is said Lake Utopia is also connected to the ocean via a system of underground tunnels so it is theoretically possible for a sea creature to by-pass the dam in St. George and move into the freshwater system via these tunnels.

There is no conclusive evidence for the existence of this creature. Some speculate it is an otter, beaver, logs, a ball of freshwater eels, a large fish or some other known animal. Eels do live in the lake but nothing of that size has ever been captured. Theories abound about what it might be but, tor the time being, the mystery of the Lake Utopia Monster remains just that, a mystery.

Newton, Michael. 2005. Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: a global guide to hidden animals and their pursuers. McFarland and Company. North Carolina. 537pp.
One monster’s Utopia. (2005, July 23) Chuck Brown – The New Brunswick Reader. Retrieved 11:05, January 24, 2011 from

The Lake Utopia Monster: Mysterious Creature Spotted For Centuries

1 comment:

  1. On the balance of other creatures reported in the general area, Old Ned is likely to fit in the Giant Eel category. See the map and other info on my latest posting "Lake Monster Potpourri" at the Frontiers-of-Zoology.

    Regards, Dale A. Drinnon