Pressie the Lake Superior Sea Serpent

Lake Superior or Gitchigumi (meaning Great Water or Great Lake) is a fresh water lake. It is 1,333 feet deep in places , with an average water temperature of 34 degrees F and is 350 miles long and up to 160 miles wide in parts. The lake is almost an inland sea. It is said to house a lake serpent, Pressie, named after the Presque Isle River where one of the best sightings occurred .

Mouth of the Presque Isle River at Lake Superior

The native indigenous people called the serpent Mishipishu and it is seen in pictographs at various shoreline sites, either as a spiky cat-like creature or as a serpent. Modern sightings cite a serpent type creature up to 75 feet long with a horse-like head on a longish neck and a bilobate (whale-type) tail, and described as dark green to black in colour. The reported sightings go back centuries, here is a selection of the most well known:

In September 1894, about halfway between Whitefish Point and Copper Harbor, Michigan, the crews of two steamers observed a strange creature undulating along in the twilight, its back protruding 6 to 8 feet out of the water.

In July 1895, three members of a steamer crew observed a “hideous creature” off Whitefish Point which seemed at times to be deliberately pacing their ship. They claimed it had a 15 foot neck and a jaw a foot wide.

In 1897 near Duluth (MN), a Detroit man fell overboard when his yacht struck a rock. He was then attacked by a huge serpent which he said tried to constrict him in the manner of a large snake. His three shipmates also saw the beast.

In the 1930’s, a serpent, swimming along at about 9 miles per hour, was observed by two fisherman at Pictured Rocks, Munising, Michigan. The animal created a strong wake as it passed the shore.

In the 1960’s, a family watched a huge animal, alternately showing humps and stretching out straight, swim upriver past the North coast of Sugar Island Neither head nor tail was visible and they said it resembled a log when stretched out straight.

Memorial Day weekend in 1977, North of Ironwood , hiker Randy Braun snapped a photo of something which he suspects was a giant serpent swimming in the waters of the lake near the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Braun said it undulated in the water like a serpent. The snapshot he took of the beast shows a blurry object in the water. (Top Photo) The photo indicates a serpent like creature with a horse-like head on a long neck and an undefined tail.

Randy Braun’s sketch

In the summer of 1981 in Munising, four children and teenagers, all siblings, observed a serpent showing 3-5 humps rising 1-2 feet out of the water (the slower it went the higher the humps). As it came within about 20 yards of the private beach, one of the children ran away crying and the animal headed away showing lower humps.

In the middle 1990’s, during the summer, fishermen watched in horror as a large aquatic animal pulled a wading buck deer under (leaving only it’s severed head) near Point Iroquois, Michigan.

All the photographic evidence is as usual grainy or blurry , but that is par for the course and lets face it, anyone’s hand would shake if they thought they saw a monster. So could it be a giant eel? It seems the most likely or a giant water snake. A sturgeon, the usual explanation seems less likely given the descriptions. What we need is a video or a carcass to turn up. Certainly in a lake that big there are plenty of places to hide!

Here is Randy Braun’s written account of the incident with other information:

Lake Superior Monster

“On Memorial Day Weekend in 1977 I was camping at Presque Isle campground north of Ironwood, Michigan, with a friend. I don’t remember if it was Saturday or Sunday but it was a beautiful morning and Lake Superior was like glass. Visibility was remarkable when looking out across the Lake, and distant land was visible. There’s a trail that leads east from the campground which crosses the Presque Isle River that I was navigating, however, the bugs were unbearable, and I headed north towards the lake hoping that walking along the beach would be more comfortable.

When I reached the tree line there was the beach but about one hundred feet below me. The slope leading to the beach was close to a 45 degree angle with short dead trees protruding from the moss covered rock, and come to find out also very slippery. It still amazes me to this day how I was able to control my slide and with a full backpack. I sheared off some of the scrub trees on the way down. Then again I was young and experienced having had extensive background in forestry and working in Idaho and Montana. I was twenty-six years old then and now I am fourty-eight. The beach was maybe thirty feet from the waters edge to the the slippery slope and as I continued to walk east sometimes no beach at all. Instead there was water with tangled lake debris amid dead standing trees. The water was knee deep to waist deep but difficult to get through, and as I think about it I’m glad "it” wasn’t lurking in there. After crossing through a couple of these beach barriers it was clear beach as far east as I could see, and I stopped by a 3'x3’ boulder, sat, and began to east lunch.

When I looked straight out to open water I saw two very distinct dark bumps which seemed to be separated by just a few feet. First, one bump would go underwater then the next bump would do the same, but only after the first one surfaced. I had a 20x spotting scope with me and couldn’t quite make out what they were. Then they began to move east and to my left, one bump going under and then the other, but one bump always stayed on top of the water while the other submerged.

It became frightfully apparent to me that this object was close to one thousand feet out and as it gained speed I realized there was a third smaller bump, and that the object was undulating. It moved very rapidly “VERY RAPIDLY” to the east and quartered towards and nearly up to the shore. The now obviously living thing stopped maybe several hundred feet from me and began moving and weaving around large boulders that were in the water, and directly towards me. IT WAS BIG and resembled an anaconda with the girth of a Volkswagen. Don’t laugh it wasn’t funny.

There was no where to go for me because of the slippery slope and the water barriers so I jumped behind the boulder and grabbed by 35mm Yashica. As it moved towards me it slowed down considerably but was making a noticeable wake. It was strangely quiet while it snaked towards me and stopped dead in the water, right in front of me. IT WAS BIG! I steadied my camera on top of the rock and fired one picture but was afraid to move after that. The thing sat there for about thirty seconds with its huge horse shaped head and large dark left eye staring at me. On the nose was a visible catfish type whisker, maybe two feet in length and wiggling.

I don’t talk to many people about it and have the original negative which I used to make an 8x10. The picture is high quality and every-thing plus more makes it quite a conversational piece. Incidentally a Doctor Reines from the State University of New York in Plattsburgh, New York has an 8x10 I’ve sent some twenty years ago. The picture is copyrighted so he didn’t pursue purchasing the photo, at least that’s what I think. At the time of the incident I lived in northern Illinois but now ironically I live in Michigan and only several miles from Lake Superior.

Two summers ago and not far from where I live, now, recreational fisherman observed a large something bite a buck deer in half while it was wading in the water near Sault Ste. Marie. An Indian friend of mine has the newspaper article.

May I also add that seeing these creatures is in Indian legend. Legend has it that Indians observed the creature do the same thing I did, and legend further adds that when it stops in the water sometime gulls mistake it for a log and land on its nose. You can guess what happened to the gull.

Furthermore and finally, people disappear near Presque Isle River occasionally and are never found. It’s attributed to the undertow (???). I don’t swim in any deep water lake anymore and occasionally have nightmares of being consumed by the thing I saw.“

Sources: cryptozoo-oscity.blogspot.com/2009/07/pressie-lake-superior-serpent.html, monstertracker.com/article/lake-superior-monster

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Photo inspiration for Mishepishu, the Underwater Panther, a really terrifying monster from Native American mythology. That I will be putting to good use in my book.

Top row: drawing from Agawa Rock in Ontario, Canada

Second row: drawing by FluffySpiderz from DeviantArt; second, source unknown

Third row: painting by Grace Owen; drawing by kyoht on DeviantArt; photograph of a piece at the National Museum of the American Indiana.

Bottom Image: Piasa bird, a reproduction of a pre-European mural done by Natives in Illinois, presumably of an Underwater Panther variation.


There’s a masquerade in February. A friend of mine is going as Aranea Serket, and another is going as her OC. I decided to go as Mishepishu.

According to legends, this fabulous creature has a pair of horns, sometimes antlers; So I made myself a new hairdo - with real antlers from a 3-point buck shot by my great-grandfather.

I plan on making the mask with feathers of partridge and turkey, and using either rabbit or faux fur to make fingerless gloves and leg warmers to create a “paws of a big cat” kind of look.

I have yet to find a suitable dress, but when I do, I’m going to have to attach an extra long train/tail to wrap around myself and sling over my shoulder, and I have yet to figure out how to make the fish tail at the end. But I do know I’m going to be using copper wire or pressed pennies to decorate the spine and tail.

I’m going to have a lot of fun with this. :)