A drive across the Okanagan Lake floating bridge back in 1978 came to a screeching halt for Bill Steciuk. That’s when he said he saw Ogopogo in the water for the first time.
“There’s three humps in the water and a head moving towards Kelowna,” Steciuk said. “Before that I was not a believer.”
That encounter led the Kelowna man to begin his hunt for the legendary creature, setting out on several expeditions on the lake over the years.
In 2003, Steciuk began collecting what he calls credible reported sightings on a website, ogopogoquest.com
WATCH BELOW: An extended interview with Bill Steciuk, who is a firm believer in Ogopogo, the mythical Okanagan Lake creature.
Steciuk said he has documented two more sightings after Global News spoke with a Kelowna man and his brother about their experience witnessing what they called a large, snake-like creature move across the water on Sept. 12.
One of those sightings was reported from the 22nd floor of a downtown Kelowna highrise and another from a condo balcony in the 4000-block of Lakeshore Road in Kelowna.
Andrew Stark captured the most recent photo on Okanagan Lake.
While Steciuk is convinced that Stark’s image captured Ogopogo, Stark is less decisive.
“That was just a weird wave,” he told Global News. He said he was too shy to speak further about what he saw.
Steciuk said most people are reluctant to report sightings and said he claimed to have commissioned a professional survey of 1,000 Kelowna residents that proved it.
The 1999 survey asked the question, “If you saw something in the water, would you report it?”
“Eight per cent said they would report it,” Steciuk said. “If you look at all the credible sightings over the years, and if that only represents eight per cent, do the math on that. It’s beyond belief.”
Steciuk said Ogopogo sightings have waned in recent years, until this summer.
“There haven’t been a lot of Ogopogo sightings lately, which is the problem,” he said. “Then all of a sudden you have three in three weeks: Totally amazing.”
Steciuk believes that a species of large, snake-like water creatures inhabit Okanagan Lake after he listened to dozens of witness accounts over several decades.
“The theory is, that eons ago, this lake was open to the ocean,” Steciuk said.
He speculated that a sea creature swam up and became trapped once the waters receded to their current levels.
Steciuk’s second personal sighting further deepened his belief in the creature’s existence.
In 2015, he said he saw a large snake-like head popping out of the lake about 150 metres from shore. He quickly grabbed his camera and captured an image of a round object on the calm lake that possessed possible facial features.
The recent cluster of reported Ogopogo sightings is common for the month of September, according to the legend hunter.
“The majority of sightings, historically in Okanagan Lake, happen between the last week of August and the first week of October,” Steciuk said. “So if anybody wants to get a picture of Ogopogo they better get a camera and they better get out there on the lake.”
Lesser boat traffic and changing temperatures could be factors for the increased sightings at this time of year, he said.