When talking cryptids there are thousands of animals that live in all parts of the world; lake monsters, wild beasts of the forests and jungles to living dinosaurs and creatures said to have been brought here from other worlds.
Myth and legend grow out of the rare and often brief human interactions with these monsters
Sometimes the legend they create grows so big “Hollywood comes a calling”
On other rare occasion it’s the other way around.
With this in mind let's look at the idea of water dwelling humanoids and ask the question, did a popular Movie inspire tales of a real-life cryptid in the Candian lakes of Vancouver?
This creature is part of movie monster royalty, and recently received an update coming in the of the 2017 film The Shape of Water by: Guillermo del Toro.
You have probably guessed that I am not talking the wolfman Dracula or the Mummy. The creature that has leapt from the silver screen and into the waters of the great white north is that scaled humanoid of the deep.
The Creature from the Black Lagoon!
The monster first appeared in a film from Universal-International, back in 1954. Played by two men Ben Chapman on land and by Ricou Browning underwater. The film premiered in Detroit on February 12 1954 and opened to rave reviews.
It was part of the 3D movie craze and was so popular, 3 more films were made that tied back to this original release.
The movie's plot tells the story of a geology expedition in the Amazon. They find a skeletal hand with webbed fingers, a missing link between the animals that walk on land and those that cruise the deep. The story moves on and a group of characters manage to put together a team to hunt down the rest of the mysterious remains.
The film continues as the group search for the fossil until the come upon the Black Lagoon.
Unbeknown to the party of adventures their movements have been closely watched by a creature that resides in the lagoon, and this is where we meet the " The Creature from the Black Lagoon” who's real name is Gill-Man.
A moniker bestowed upon the creature due its ability to breathe underwater.
Any way the film goes on much in the same way as all these movies do, beasts sees girl, beast falls in love with girl, beast is killed by the men and everyone goes home happily ever after with a story tell.
Except with this film, things take a bit of weird turn as not only did the Gill-Man become a popular figure in western culture often appearing in other forms of media and being a favourite creature to dress as for Halloween, the gill-man was spotted swimming in the frigid waters of Thetis Lake.
Thetis Lake is a name for two freshwater lakes connected by a narrow culvert in the 834-hectare Thetis Lake Regional Park outside Victoria, British Columbia.
It was Canada's first nature sanctuary being founded in 1958 just 4 short years after the film's release.
It would be another 14 years until a pair of boys saw an animal that closely resembled the Gill-Man of movie fame.
first encountered by two teenage boys in 1972, a police investigation sprung up from this strange encounter.
An officer took the statements of the two boys and said he believed that they were sincere in their claims. Their claims seemed to be supported when two men came forward four short days later claiming to have seen the same cryptid, this time on the opposite side of the lake.
The monster was described as being an aquatic reptilian humanoid standing at five feet or 1.5m tall and resembled a human lizard with a large head that was covered in barbed spikes, this description being very similar to the Hollywood monster.
On August 26, 1972 a man reported that his pet Tegu lizard, an aggressive lizard that can grow four feet long, had escaped and that he was searching for it. The police concluded that what had been seen by the witnesses was the escaped reptile and they closed their investigation, giving the official statement that the lizard man was the missing pet.
That is not the end of the story however as many locals still believe that the Thetis Lake Lizard Man was an as of yet to identified creature and that he still lives in the lake.
Another problem with this story is that 2 of the 4 witnesses, claimed that their sightings were simple hoaxes. All they wanted was some attention from this whole ordeal.
Maybe the opposite is true, they got a little more attention from telling their story then they had first bargained for. Maybe ridicule and constant questioning over the incident saw them change their story as to regain some peace and not have their lives taken over by retelling or defending themselves from those that claimed the story a hoax.
It's something which happens often when people see things that do not fit with the ordinary.
But let's get back to the creature. Let's say this is a real animal or humanoid being a humanoid it would have to a level of reasonable intelligence maybe it has been purposely staying hidden, maybe after realising it had been spotted it made its way to a more isolated body of water.
In Del Torros The Shape of Water the Gill-Man is highly intelligent, not only is he smart he can also cure wounds and turn back the effects of aging. These abilities are what had the locals who lived along the banks of south American river in which the Amphibian Man was captured worshipping the creature as a God.
This it turns out is not far from truth.
As with many legendary creatures there are many stories across the planet of beast which are so similar it could be argued that they are the same thing just known by different names with the Thetis Lake Monster the same idea rings true.
So, which other cryptid water dwelling humanoids could be the same as or related to the Canadian monster?
The frogman immediately springs to mind but I have already investigated him here …...Cryptozoology. The story of the Loveland Frogman
Let's look at a few of the other water dwelling humanoids that could be likened to the Gill-man.
Like in the movies, The indigenous peoples of the Amazon rain forest do really believe in an aquatic creature named yacuruna.
They describe people that live in underwater cities who are a reflection of human life on land.
Their palaces are said to be made of crystal and decorated with shining pearls and fish scales. The yacuruna are said to ride on the backs of snakes, crocodiles, and turtles.
A yacuruna resembled a human, except that the head, hands, and feet were on backward. Others claimed that these humanoids simply had webbed hands, feet, and green skin. Legend said that if a human was ever captured by a yacuruna, they would begin to transform into one, starting with their eyes rolling backward. A shaman would have to reverse the curse before it was too late. Some believed that the yacuruna were an advanced civilization and that they were the source of a shaman’s medical knowledge.
This seems to be the creature that Del Toro based his movie monster on.
Let's step away from South America and look at a Slavic legend.
The Vodyanoy is said to be a guardian spirit of water. Described as a wise old man he can control all types aquatic creature, an ability shared with DC’s Aquaman.
If local people treat the water with respect, he will reward them with bountiful catches of fish to eat and valuable pearls to trade. If they don’t well, I guess you can figure out that the water would not be so providing.
The Vodyanoy, has a body that is humanlike with webbed hands, but he has a head that is somewhat frog like all be it with a human nose. It has a beard that is said to drip with algae and slime.
The creature is said to be a shapeshifter, once it left the water it could change into a man oddly the only detail that would give it away was that the Vodyanoy’s left butt cheek would constantly be dripping water.
Probably one of the oldest legends of aquatic humanoids, one that still has influence today is the legend of the Oannes.
Originating in Ancient in Mesopotamian mythology, they were said to be an amphibious race who taught mankind wisdom. Oannes, as described by the Babylonian priest Berosus, had the form of a fish but with the head of a man under his fish’s head and under his fish’s tail the feet of a man.
“the form of a fish but with the head of a man under his fish’s head” being something to keep in mind as we still that imagery today but more on that in a bit.
In the daytime they came up to the seashore of the Persian Gulf and instructed mankind in writing, the arts, and the sciences. Oannes were considered the emissary of Ea, god of the freshwater deep and of wisdom.
These gifts to humanity are still celebrated today and the Oannes are said to still be the focus of worship, this worship of ancient Fish Gods being hidden in plain sight in Catholic ceremonies.
Christian lore is filled with stories of fish and fish men and many say that if you look closely you can still them in today religious practices, the mitres worn by the priest a reflection of the fish- headed men, the bible tells of the tower of Babel a building said to have been constructed with help from the Oannes.
But know we are straying away from cryptozoology and getting into the realms of religious history.
Maybe that a video for another time, back to cryptids.
What do you think these water dwelling humanoids could be, which is your favourite, and do you believe the likes of Mermaids or the many other cryptozoological creatures of the deep truly exist?
Let me know in the comments below.