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Sunday, 26 June 2011

Ponik of Pohenegamook (Mocking Lake)

At one time, the creature at Mocking Lake (Lake Pohenegamook) would have been considered one of North Americas best-established Water Monsters. That status has subsequently faded away somewhat. Some sources give the name of the lake as Lake Ponhenegamook and some give the English translation as Mocking Lake, which is of course the same as to say Echo Lake. Some of the lists give both names and do not understand there is only one lake involved. The problem probably arises with Costello but it is repeated by many others that recycle his information

The name given to the Monster of the Lake is Ponik, taken to be a diminuative of the Lake's name in the same tradition as "Nessie." the name for the Monster of the Lake in French is Water Horse or Water Cow, and in many European languages Ponik means Pony, and so can be understood as Water-Pony. This is rather unfortunate because the descriptions and illustrations of Ponik are a distinctively different type and it is useful to call the creature a secondary type and then to call that type Ponik for convenience.

Quebec is one place where Water-Horse reports abound and even under the name of Water-Horse or Horse's Head, or the French equivalents. And it is also true that people sometimes tend to think of Ponik as being a typical Water-Horse or typical Lake Monster in general, especially when they describe it as 35 to 40 feet long, or even 50 to 60 feet long, and that much is including a long wake. One photograph is said to show an animal with "Golden Horns" and Eberhart mentions its tracks are hoofprints (Round). Eberhart even gives the first alternative for identity as being a "Swimming deer or moose"

Yet not only are the depictions of Ponik distinctive, they also hearken back to a distinctive Native and even PreColumbian prototype: Ponik is a Water Panther or Mishipizhiw. This is immediately obvious because of the long, low body with a spiked ridge along the spine, long tail and short legs with definite clawed feet on them. Horns are sometimes noted on the head and traditionally shown on Water Panther depictions. Furthermore, other Water Monsters in the Great Lakes district are also identified as Water Panthers or Mishipizhiws (and as the same type of creature as shown on the petroglyphs) As far away as around Lake Superior and Wisconsin especially. And Water Panthers in this part of North America are most likely the same as the Master-Otters in the British Isles.

{Winnebago Medicine Animal, a typical Mishipizhiw variation]

The information from Peter Costello, In Search of Lake Monsters, starts on page 228. 'Reports of a Monster in Mocking Lake, also in Quebec, have been seriously investigated by a scientist. There had been occasional sightings over many years. In 1958, the Director of the Quebec Department of Game and Fisheries, Dr. Vadim Vladikov, went out to the lake to make a private investigation.
"I have questioned a great many people in Saint Eleuthre (the local village) and they all tell me the same thing- an animal 12 to 18 feet long, brown or black in colour, with a round back two or three feet wide asnd a sawtooth fin down the centre. Any time anyone approaches close, the animal slithers away and sinks below the lake's surface." '

The "Sawteeth" on the back are elsewhere explained by Heuvelmans as locks of hair sticking together along the spine, and that explanation fits well in this case also.Occasionally, the creature is said to have come out of water and its legs were said to be 18 inches long: the feet were said to be clawed and webbed. In the water or out, there is said to be a very long and powerful tail which has been estimated as five or six feet long (the tail alone)

Brazilian Giant River Otter: Probably closest "Known" analogue for Ponik. In Ponik's case the fur on the back is partially dry and roughed up a bit to look "Scaly". Others have noticed that otter fur can have this appearance.

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