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COUNTY: Mono County
LOCATION DETAILS: Maybe 20 yards from the waters edge on a section of beach at Mono Lake. Unclear on the exact location; however, that should be easy to ascertain from the terrain captured on the video tape.
NEAREST TOWN: Lee Vining
NEAREST ROAD: Hwy 395
OBSERVED: On May 18, 1991, while on vacation in the Mammoth Lakes area in Northern California, my family took a short day hike to Mono Lake to do some sightseeing. It was overcast and very cold with a strong wind blowing. There was still snow on the surrounding peaks. Mono Lake is at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
I do not recall the location at which we parked the car to begin our hike, but I do remember that ours was the only car in the parking area and that the spot was quite desolate. It was a cold Saturday morning and the area was deserted. At 9:17AM I began shooting VHS video footage of our trek, and after a short period of time we finally decided to leave because of the wind and cold. We went back to our hotel in June Lake, enjoyed the rest of the weekend and went home. The trip was quite uneventful (or so we assumed).
The tape went into our family home video collection and for 17 years, from 1991 to 2008, it has been watched countless times by family and friends. So much so that my kids have the dialog on much of the tape collection memorized. On April 19, 2008 my daughter (6 years old in the video and now 22) was watching the tape in the downstairs family room when she suddenly screamed out and began yelling for me to come downstairs. I thought something bad had happened and after racing down the staircase, found my daughter and my ex sitting in front of the television telling me to watch a segment from the tape. What I saw when we played it back made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. And it was something none of us had ever noticed in almost 17 years of watching this tape,
In the final few seconds of the Mono Lake segment just before I turned the camera off I caught something very large and black moving between two rock formations a short distance from where we had been hiking. It was completely black with no differentiation in color or texture and walked upright like a human but with a gate more like a primate. At first I thought it was a bear, but after going over the video many times and finally digitizing and sharpening it I am now unsure what to think. From examination of the footage of my family whose distance from the camera was comparable to that of the creature it is easy to see the distinct details and variation in clothing, hair, face and hands. In contrast, the creature caught on tape exhibits none of those distinctions.The shape of the body does not resemble a human. The head is too large and the arms are too long. And although it does resemble a bear at one particular angle in the clip, the stance and gate don't add up. It is an intriguing mystery.
That we were able to go for 17 years without noticing this event on the tape seems unbelievable, but in retrospect it actually makes some sense. The segment lasts for only a couple of seconds and the focus is on the lake and mountains which is what I must have been filming at the time. I didn't see it when I shot the tape and it has since gone unnoticed because one must really be looking for it to see it.
I am not a person who is prone to believing in conspiracy theories, alien abductions and bizarre events such as a purported Bigfoot sighting. I've seen various footage and photographs of Bigfoot/Sasquatch sightings over the years and have always been extremely skeptical of their authenticity. As an engineer who now teaches high school physics, I am highly educated and very level headed. If I see something I don't understand my natural reaction is to analyze it rationally using the scientific method. I do not jump to conclusions based on faulty hypotheses. So in this case, I will suspend judgment pursuant to further investigation. But having shown this video to family and friends whose opinions I trust, the overall reaction seems to be a unanimous "Bigfoot!!" Wishful thinking? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way it is very intriguing and definitely warrants further investigation.
Your opinion and assistance in this matter would be appreciated.
ALSO NOTICED: Sighting captured on VHS video tape.
OTHER WITNESSES: My wife and two children, ages 4 and 6. But as noted, the event was not noticed by any of us at the time and was discovered 17 years after the video tape was made.
OTHER STORIES: No.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Approximately 9:20AM. Overcast verging on rain. Very cold and windy.
ENVIRONMENT: Away from the lake, the area is arid, a dry desert like area with sparse grass, very rocky with small bushes, and no trees. Many rock formations. The creature that was captured on tape was moving between two rock formations that were approximately 30 feet apart. The movement was parallel to the camera.
A & G References: Northern California DeLorme Atlas, Page # 112, index of A-1.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Richard Hucklebridge:
To view this footage, please refer to this section of the BFRO's public message board:
The initial investigation of this report was conducted by Richard Hucklebridge.
The commentary below was written by Richard Hucklebridge and by BFRO Director Matt Moneymaker.
When this report was first posted we included some still captures from the video. Several group members said the still caps do not do the video justice. They felt the still caps should be withheld until someone volunteered to host the clip on a dedicated server(s).
The clip is a large, long video file which will bog down our server if we try to serve too many simultaneous downloads.
This is a popular web site. Whenever this web site releases some potential photographic evidence (which we don't do very often) which also happens to be a large file(s), and those files get written about in the wire services ... our dedicated server at GoDaddy (the biggest web server company in the US) tends to get overloaded and it chokes ... right when millions of people are trying access the site and the new special file. ... So we must be careful offering big files, and we must host those big files on a sever other than the main server for the site.
We will not host this particular clip on YouTube because so much visual detail will be lost in the YouTube's automatic compression process. Many viewers would not see the figure at all if we put the clip on YouTube. Any compression of this video will literally transform it into a different piece of footage, with respect to the details discussed herein.
The bigfoot-like figure is only seen for about two seconds walking among some tufa spires. The entire footage is longer. The whole clip (from when he start taping, to when he stopped taping) shows the cameraman's family on the shore of Mono Lake, and then he pans over to some tufa spires (during which time you see the mountains in the background and other clues to the specific location) where the figure is briefly seen through a gap among the spires.
The clarity of the figure is not excellent, but it is clear enough for us to confidently conclude that it is a large upright primate and not a bear.
Humans are also large upright primates. So it is either a bigfoot, or it is someone in a bigfoot costume, or it is someone wearing a large, full-length brown fur coat with excessively long furry sleeves.
The zone immediately around Mono Lake is not a forested area, but it is close to forested areas. It lays right at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
This incident would be the first one reported on the shores of Mono Lake itself, but there have been many sightings in the mountains on both sides of the lake (the Sierras and the White Mountains).
Please refer to the BFRO's Google Earth layer showing the locations of sighting reports.
See also the Wikipedia article about Mono Lake: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mono_Lake#Native_people_of_Mono_Lake
The BFRO has endeavored over the years, in the field, to confirm certain hypothesis about these animals. One of those hypotheses is that sasquatches in the western inland mountain ranges will descend from upper elevations in the winter to both avoid the deepest snows of winter and spring, and to follow the deer herds they prey upon.
Deer and elk descend from the high country of western inland mountain ranges to lower elevations in the winter and spring, to forage in canyons and valleys such as the one encompassing Mono Lake. They return back up into the mountains as the snow line recedes in late spring. Deer and sasquatches are most concentrated just below the receding snow line during the spring and winter, in places where the deer can feed on the freshest sprouting spring growth. This is their seasonal migration in western mountains, and it only applies to this region which gets so dry and hot at lower elevations in the summer.
There are very few humans (perhaps none whatsoever) hiking the whole perimeter of Mono Lake in the cold season (winter and spring).
People do not walk around in bigfoot costumes or large furry coats while hiking or fishing. There is more than one safety-related reason why people would not do that.
One of Mono Lake's unique features is its extraordinary population of brine flies that feed on green algae in the warm alkalai waters of lake and lay their eggs on the shores of the lake. The abundant larvae on the shores of Mono Lake were once a principal food source for Piute band of indians who lived near the lake. People no longer collect these nutritious protein-rich larvae for food, but the resource is still there.
The abundant flies and larvae, and brine shrimp in the water, support an extraordinary population of shore birds around Mono Lake. There are both resident and migratory populations of shore birds -- perhaps the widest variety of shorebirds in any one place in the Western United States.
Certain bird species at Mono Lake make nests in the towering tufa spires around the lake. The successful nests would be well out of reach of smaller mammals, but perhaps not out of reach of a taller mammal with longer arms.
If an animal were to step out of the canyons on the east flank of the Sierras (or the west flank of the White Mountains to the east) in order to feed on the abundant protein sources around the Mono Lake, it would probably not shuttle back and forth into the mountains every day. It would likely stay down in the valley for at least a few days, and bed down in the grasses on the edge of the lake. Tree shade would not be crucial in the cold months like would be in the warm months. The tufa spires themselves would provide some shade and cover.
The derivation of the name "Mono Lake" is uncertain. It is also uncertain whether the "Mono" indians were named after the lake, or the lake was named after them. Some note the name is similar to a different tribe's word for "fly eater" but there is no question that the fly-eating Mono indians did not call themselves "Mono". They had a different name for themselves, and yet a different unpronounceable name for the lake.
The name "Mono Lake" may well have been the consequence of early Spanish influence in California. If the name "Mono Lake" is indeed a product of Spanish influence, then it literally means "Monkey Lake".
There are no monkeys in North America. Early Spanish explorers were familiar with monkeys because monkeys exist in Mexico. At least one southwest indian tribe was aware of monkeys in Mexico, but their term was different than the Spanish term for monkey. That indian term for monkey literally meant "squirrel people".
Why didn't the camerama see the animal when he was videotaping it?
This is a common situation. Discreet movement in the background of video footage is often noticed for the first time when the footage is played on a large screen. The opposite end of the spectrum from a big screen TV is the tiny screen of an old camcorder's viewfinder. Back in 1991 most camcorders did not have flip out LCD screens. You could only look through a small viewfinder. As its name suggests a "viewfinder" is only good for showing which direction the camera is pointing. It is not designed to reveal lots of detail. The figure in this video would have been virtually unnoticeable through an old style viewfinder.
Richard Hucklebridge's Investigation Notes:
My wife and I have been to Mono Lake in the late 90’s. Many people visit this area when the weather is good.
I suspect the location is on the southern shore of this lake.
There are no fish in this lake. The birds around the lake feed on brine flies and larvae on the shores. They also feed on the algae and brine shrimp in the lake.
On June 30th of 2008, I finally had the opportunity to talk with MV, who was the cameraman for this footage.
MV stated that his daughter’s friend first spotted this dark movement at the end of one of their old vacation videos. This friend then got MV’s daughter to take a look at it. The daughter then showed it to her father, MV.
MV then contacted the BFRO and was very forthcoming with the footage and everything else asked of him. He is a science teacher at a high school in south Orange County, California. He has no incentive to fake this footage or to involve his family in an elaborate prank.
The animal seen strolling among the tufa spires appears to be upright and bipedal and muscular. It appears to have long arms and makes long strides with its legs. It does not appear to be a bear. It appears to be either a man in a bigfoot costume, or an actual bigfoot.
The profile of the cameraman, combined with the random circumstances of the videotaping, strongly suggest this is not a man in a costume -- not a hoax.
Please contact the BFRO via email (contact@BFRO.net) if you have heard of any similar sightings near Mono Lake.
About BFRO Investigator Richard Hucklebridge:
- Four years in the United States Navy, 1955-1959 (Combat Air Crewman on P4M Mercator Patrol Aircraft)
- 37 years in the aerospace industry: 33 years with General Electric at Edwards AFB; More than 5 years with the Northrop Grumman Corp. at Edwards AFB (Flight Line Mechanic on the B-2 Bomber).
- During 20 of those years at Edwards he was a Reserve Deputy Sheriff for the County of Los Angeles.