I Go Ogopogo

One mythical monster I’ve been meaning to feature here for some time but so far haven’t gotten around to is the Ogopogo, a palindromic name for the British Columbian equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster. Cryptozoologists claim that it’s a serpentine creature between forty and fifty feet long that lives in Lake Okanagan near the town of Kelowna.

Some think it must be a sort of prehistoric whale that eats fish. If you go to the source of the name, however, it’s apparently actually the offspring of an earwig and a whale that plays the banjo. It also seems to be native to Hindustan, not Canada. I guess it must have migrated at some point. This source is an English music hall novelty song from 1924, with lyrics by Cumberland Clark and music by Mark Strong.

The cover of the sheet music shows the Ogopogo as a goblin-like creature with a fish tail.

I’ve seen it proposed that the name comes from the pogo stick, which had been introduced not long before that. Personally, I can’t help drawing a connection to the tail-biting snake Ouroboros. The name appears to have first been applied to a lake monster in 1926, after a supposed sighting by multiple people. The earlier name for the British Columbian creature was N’ha-a-itk, identified by the tribes of the area as a demon that could stir up storms with its tail, and had to be placated through animal sacrifice. This article from 2006 mentions a legend that the N’ha-a-itk was originally a human murderer who was punished by being turned into a lake monster. I don’t think there’s any real indication as to how old these stories might be. I get the feeling it was given the name of the creature from the novelty song because non-natives didn’t want to try to pronounce “N’ha-a-itk.”

Regardless, I hope the part about playing the banjo is true. I believe the first time I came across the name was in the Final Fantasy series. In Final Fantasy IV, there’s a monster called Ogopogo that you can fight to obtain the Masamune.

It can summon tidal waves, which might be a reference to the N’ha-a-itk legends. The Japanese name for this monster, however, is closer to Tidarithian, probably a combination of “tidal” with “Leviathan.” The creature is a different-colored version of Leviathan, who is the King of Summoned Monsters in the game.

This entry was posted in Final Fantasy, Monsters, Music, Mythology, Native American, Urban Legends, Video Games and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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