Huechulito

Lago Huechulafquen, a glacial lake set against the beautiful landscape of Patagonian Argentina, is home to a lake monster. The lake provides adequate space for a large aquatic cryptid; its surface area covers 40 square miles. Lake Huechulafquen reaches great depths; the depth of the lake exceeds 500 meters (1640 feet) in some spots. Huechulafquen is a Mapuche word meaning “long lake.” This native word provides a good description; the lake reaches a length of 18 miles, while its width is only about 3 miles. The physical characteristics of Lake Huechulafquen resemble many of the glacial lakes of Canada and the Northern United States—long, narrow, and deep.

Photos of a Lake Monster

Though rumors of something lurking in the waters had been circulating for quite some time, the creature in Lake Huechulafquen came to prominence in 2009 when a recreational boater took several pictures that are consistent with “typical” lake monster descriptions—multi-humped, dark in color, long, and serpentine in appearance. The photos give the impression that the creature is large and moves by means of vertical undulations.

Jorge Salcedo obtained the photographs from a catamaran which was positioned about 150 meters (492 feet) away from the creature. Salcedo’s neighbor sent several photographs to a laboratory in the United States for scientific analysis. According to Ruben Campos, the Mayor of Junín de los Andes, a town about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from Lake Huechulafquen, the photographs appear to be authentic.

Biologist Alejandro del Valle spoke to the press on the matter after viewing Salcedo’s photographs. She was able to study four photographs which show three distinctive humps. Valle could not say with any certainty what the creature could be. She did, however, say that the image in the photographs could be a “huge water snake.”

The Aftermath

Taking the matter seriously and determined to find answers, Mayor Campos assembled a team to study the phenomenon in Lake Huechulafquen. Although nothing of substance came out of it, Campos should be commended for taking the situation seriously. Really, though, the mayor should have acted in the manner he did; there had been a long-held belief among many in the community that something strange was lurking in the cold waters of the lake. In fact, as early as 1922, Emilio Frey reported a long-necked, lizard-headed creature that caused the water to boil when it submerged itself. About 20 years prior to Jorge Salcedo’s photographs, border patrol officers shot at a giant reptile. The creature got into the water and managed to escape. Given the history, in my view, the mayor acted exactly as he should have when he assembled a team to study the phenomenon.

I wrote about Huechulito and many other lake monsters in my book Water Monsters South of the Border. 

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