FRESHWATER MONSTER of Argentina.
Physical description: Long neck like a swan’s,
held high above the water.
Behavior: Nocturnal. Can travel on land.
Distribution: The lake region of Chubut
Province, Argentina, including Lago Blanco; the
adjacent region of Chile.
Significant sightings: The director of the
Jardín Zoológico at Buenos Aires, Clemente
Onelli, interviewed a farmer who lived on Lago
Blanco in 1897 about strange, nocturnal noises
heard along the lake’s pebbly shore. A longnecked
animal could sometimes be seen on
On October 18, 1921, prospector Martin
Sheffield came across the tracks of a large animal
west of Esquel, Argentina, and followed them to
an unnamed mountain lake where he saw a plesiosaur-
like animal swimming.
Onelli organized an expedition, led by José
Cihagi and Emilio Frey, that set out to investigate
these reports on March 23, 1922. On April
18, despite some bureaucratic problems with
permits, the group reached the lake where
Sheffield had seen the animal but did not find
anything (despite setting off some dynamite in
the lake); the group was forced to return to
Buenos Aires on April 26 before the southern
winter set in.
Possible explanation: The Giant otter
(Pteronura brasiliensis) is found much farther
north, though there is a historical record of its
existence from Uruguay. It grows to a length of
6 feet, including the tail.