The Iliamna Lake Monster: A Beast in Alaska’s Largest Lake

The Iliamna Lake Monster, also known as Illie, Gonakadet or Jig-ik-nak, is an aquatic cryptid that is reported to dwell in Iliamna Lake, a large natural lake located in the southwestern portion of Alaska. The lake is about 77 miles long, 22 miles wide and 988 feet deep at its deepest point. It is also very remote and hard to access, making it an ideal place for a monster legend.

The monster is described as a large fish-like creature, ranging from 10 to 30 feet in length, with a square-like head and distinct fins. Some witnesses have compared it to a shark, a whale, an orca or a sturgeon. It is said to be dark in color and sometimes travels in groups. It is also said to be aggressive and capable of attacking boats and people.

What is the history of the Iliamna Lake Monster?

The legend of the Iliamna Lake Monster goes back centuries, as it is rooted in the native folklore of the Tlingit and Aleut people who inhabited the region. The Tlingit called it Gonakadet, which means “fish god”, and depicted it as a whale-like creature with a wolf-like head and tail. The Aleut called it Jig-ik-nak, which means “big fish”, and described it as a fish-like monster that killed and ate people traveling by water.

The first modern reports of the monster date back to the 1940s, when bush pilots claimed to see giant fish swimming in the lake while flying over it. Since then, many other sightings have been reported by locals, fishermen, tourists and researchers. Some of the most notable sightings include:

  • In 1959, a group of fishermen claimed to see a large black fish with white spots that was longer than their 35-foot boat.
  • In 1963, a schoolteacher named Babe Alsworth claimed to see a 20-foot fish with shiny skin and large eyes while flying over the lake.
  • In 1977, a biologist named Bruce Wright claimed to see several large fish that looked like sharks while conducting a survey on the lake.
  • In 1979, a fisherman named Gary Nielsen claimed to see a 12-foot fish with a square head and a dorsal fin while fishing on the lake.
  • In 1988, a pilot named Tim LaPorte claimed to see a 30-foot fish with a whale-like tail while flying over the lake.
  • In 1998, a fisherman named Kelly Nash claimed to see a 10-foot fish with a blunt nose and whiskers while fishing on the lake.
  • In 2011, an adventurer named Jeremy Wade investigated the legend for his TV show “River Monsters” and concluded that the monster could be a giant white sturgeon.

What are the theories about the Iliamna Lake Monster?

There are many theories about what the Iliamna Lake Monster could be, ranging from scientific to supernatural. Some of the most common theories are:

  • A giant white sturgeon: This is the most plausible theory, as white sturgeon are known to grow up to 20 feet long and weigh up to 1,800 pounds. They also have square heads, whiskers and bony plates that could resemble shark fins. White sturgeon are native to North America and can live in both fresh and salt water. However, there is no evidence that they exist in Iliamna Lake or that they can reach such enormous sizes.
  • A prehistoric survivor: This is a more speculative theory, as it suggests that the monster could be a relic of an ancient species that survived extinction. Some candidates include plesiosaurs, mosasaurs or megalodons, which were marine reptiles or sharks that lived millions of years ago. However, there is no fossil evidence that these creatures ever inhabited Alaska or that they could adapt to freshwater environments.
  • A supernatural entity: This is a more mystical theory, as it suggests that the monster could be a spirit or a god that protects or haunts the lake. This theory is based on the native legends and beliefs that associate the monster with supernatural powers. However, there is no scientific way to prove or disprove this theory.

What are the references for the facts described?

If you want to learn more about the Iliamna Lake Monster, you can check out these sources:

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