Shuswaggi

In my book, People are Seeing Something: A Survey of Lake Monsters in the United States and Canada I cover Shuswaggi, the legendary “water bear.” Below is an excerpt:


….is known as Shuswaggi, and alternately, Ta-zam-a, which means “water bear” in the native tongue. Shuswaggi is described as a large, serpentine creature with multiple humps that greatly resembles a gigantic eel. The creature is said to have glossy black skin and up to seven humps. Witnesses claim that Shuswaggi is able to swim approximately ten miles an hour, moving by means of vertical undulations.
Ideally, in the study of a lake monster, there are a plethora of documented sightings to draw from. This is not the case with Shuswaggi; there are few reports to study and evaluate. There are enough, however, to believe that people are seeing something in Shuswap Lake, and have been for quite some time. Few sightings do not mean that a creature doesn’t exist—a lack of sightings could simply indicate the elusive nature of the animal.
There is a story from 1904 fits well with the description of a “water bear,” but is of little help in determining if a serpentine creature inhabits the lake. According to the tale, a Shuswap Indian killed a Ta-zam-a and then sold its hide. What he killed was described as being as large as a grizzly bear, with hair about four inches long. The creature had feet that were about 12 inches in length and were said to resemble the feet of a mole. If this story is true, it provides some anecdotal evidence for a cryptid resembling a bear—it is of little help however in determining if a large, serpentine creature resides in Shuswap Lake.
In the summer of 1948, two incidents occurred that might warrant some attention. On July 12, the boat of C. Dew was nearly flipped over by something. Dew reportedly saw a huge creature surface near his boat—the same animal that nearly capsized his vessel. On July 27, D. Sinclair saw what he thought to be one of his cattle, a black steer, in the water. As Sinclair approached, whatever it was submerged and disappeared. Obviously, whatever Sinclair saw was not one of his cows. Beyond that though, little else can ascertained from his story.
In August 1970, a family outing ended in a Shuswaggi sighting. After a picnic on Lake Shuswap to celebrate a birthday, the family packed up the car and began the drive home. As they headed home, the husband noticed waves coming ashore and saw what he believed was a log. He was driving at a speed of about 35 miles per hour, and astonishingly, the log was keeping pace! When the family was able to get a closer look, the log was not a log at all—it was alive; the former log was now a greenish-gray creature that resembled a massive snake. About 30 feet of the creature was visible above the water, and it did not appear to have skin that was covered in scales.
Perhaps the best documented sighting occurred on June 3, 1984, when…

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