|The PLESIOTURTLE by Thomas Finley|
With all the modern technology
hearing aids of the 21st Century
listening into the quiet
And lo - this is no longer a world of amber and silence.
This is a world full of voices and songs.
Ancient melodies modulating to a 200 million year old beat
And now that we have heard the songs and voices in the
amber what would they tell us
and are we going to listen ?
by Dr. Jacqueline Giles
Australian Turtle expert
For over 10 years, some Lake Champlain Champ investigators have recorded, with underwater hydrophones, unidentified animal audio that some claim resembles that of Beluga Whales. Could it be that Champ is actually a whale, or is it possible that not only are there ancient, long necked aquatic reptiles swimming around Champlain, but a species of cetacean could be occupying the lake as well ? After all, more than 30 fossil specimens of Belugas have been unearthed in the area around the 490 square mile lake, a reminder of a time not long ago when Champlain was still directly connected to the sea, with easy passage for all marine life until the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago.
|The Charlotte Whale|
|Liz Von Muggenthaler|
What animal can make these sounds in a fresh water lake, and is the statement we've heard many times, "that only whales can produce aquatic echolocation" correct, or is there scientific data that disputes this conclusion ?
Are there other possible candidates that are not being considered ?
Is everything in Champlain that quacks like a duck really a duck ?
|Pink River Dolphin|
|Beluga Whales at Nova Scotia|
They refund your money at nearby Cape Cod if you don't see a whale on a whale watching cruise, and if Belugas, or something related were living in Champlain you could expect to hear folks shouting "thar she blows" on much of the lake. And of course historically, whales have never been hard for us to find.
Not to say that whales have never ventured into rivers and tributaries connected to the ocean. There are accounts of wayward appearances of whales in rivers around the world. When they do, it usually becomes a media event with the animals being quite visible to observers on the shore as they come up for air. On some occasions the journey ends tragically for the whale, as they are disoriented to the point of being unable to return to the ocean.
|Whale in the Sacramento River|
|Champlain Ice Fishing Party|
|Shallow waters on the canal|
At the dams there are fish ladders in place to allow spawning fish passage, but they can't accommodate larger animals.
|Chambly Chutes Eel ladder|
He found the idea of tunnels as "highly improbable."
A whale expert responds
In 2013, Dr. Lance Barrett Lennard, a research scientist from the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center and a qualified expert on whale acoustics took a look and listen to the Fauna Lake Champlain Champ "echolocation" charts and pointed out signals that were not exactly what he has seen previously with whales. Dr. Lennard concluded that the patterns were not of whales and probably not mammal and ultimately unknown to him.
So if it isn't whales, then what else could be making these whale-like signals ?
In 2003, an Australian turtle researcher named Jacqueline Giles discovered that the Australian Snake Neck Turtle (Chelodina Oblonga) could also produce what was thought to be high frequency echolocation in an aquatic environment. After many recordings and 2 years of study her 240 page report was examined by the Acoustical Society of America and confirmed to be actual. The ASA scientists further confirmed that there was also a complex language being expressed that showed signs of high intelligence and social order. The level of complexity, although not quite on par with whales, was surprising, and was something no one had ever thought possible by turtles before.
|South American Tectafera|
Turtles however, are still alive (extant, not extinct) and some fully aquatic species can get to be over a ton in weight. Could a species of unclassified, flippered, giant snake neck turtle be responsible for the sounds being recorded ?
Some paleontologists, like Kenneth Carpenter, director of the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum and author or co-author of a number of books on dinosaurs and Mesozoic life, say they might consider a still existing order of animal to be the mystery beasts.
|Large Snake Neck Turtle demonstrating stealth breathing.|
There are at least 5 species of aquatic loving turtles now living in Champlain, turtles being the only reptile known to live in the lake already.
|One ton Leatherback Turtle from the land of Loch Ness, Scotland.|
These are just some of the scientifically known abilities of the amazing Chelonians.
So next time you hear the statement that "only whales can produce aquatic echolocation," remember that new evidence also includes an animal that looks exactly like what many of the reports of lake monsters seen around the world are said to look like. That animal is the Snake Neck Turtle.
|Birds of a feather ?|