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Monday, March 9, 2015

The Giant Fish of Lake Iliamna

There's some big fish living in Lake Iliamna in Alaska. The lake is definitely big enough to hide a species of lake monster - it covers 1,033 square miles! The depth of most of the lake is about 660 feet, but at some spots it gets more than 1,000 feet deep. It was described by cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson as being more of an inland sea.
Drawing of a Lake Iliamna Mosnter. Possible size compared to a human
by The Morloc on DeviantArt

The monsters in Lake Iliamna are usually described as being giant fish - they are said to be up to 30 feet long, are grayish in color, and are sometimes said to have a white stripe down their backs. The native Tlingit people living around the lake told stories of giant fish called Gonakadet. The Aleut people also told stories of the Jig-ik-nak. They said the Jig-ik-nak lived in groups and attacked canoes and killed the people in them. The Aleut feared the fish and did not hunt them.
An artist's reconstruction of a pilot spotting giant
fish in Lake Iliamna

In the 1940s and '50s pilots flying over the lake started reporting seeing huge, aluminum colored fish. One sighting occurred when Babe Alesworth and Bill Hammersley were flying over the lake. Alsworth was flying and noticed some strange shapes near an island in the middle of the lake. As they got closer Alsworth realized that he was seeing huge fish! The two witnesses said the fish were a dull aluminum color, with tails that waved side to side. They were about 10 feet long. Over the years many other people have reported seeing the huge fish, some saying they reached 30 feet in length.

In 1979 the Anchorage Daily News offered a reward of $100,000 to anyone who could prove that a species of huge fish lived in the lake. No one has ever collected.

Some people think that the Lake Iliamna Monsters are really just large white sturgeon. Jeremy Wade of River Monsters on Animal Planet favors this theory. But, no white sturgeon have ever been caught in Lake Iliamna. And, could the fish grow up to 30 feet long? Sturgeon are bottom dwellers, so they could possibly hide in an extremely deep lake like Lake Iliamna.
Jeremy Wade(right) of River Monsters holding a huge sturgeon

If you want to read more on the Lake Iliamna Monsters, you should check out Cryptozoology A to Z by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark or The Menagerie of Marvels by Karl Shuker.