1944 - April Fool: The Joke's on Us
The sea monster that would eventually be named “Sharlie” was sighted several times again in the years following 1944. It was described as dark or black with shiny skin. Reports of its size ranged from twelve to 60 feet long, but most accounts settled for 35 to 40 feet in length.
In 1947, two Oregon sportsmen fishing on Payette Lake steered their boat towards a large wake sporting three humps that they spotted in the water. The anglers said the creature appeared to be about 40 feet long. One of the fishermen, F.M. Christiansen, said, “I have been coming here for 20 years and have always figured the sea serpent talk was just a lot of hooey. I sure changed my mind.”
Instead of fearing the creature, the people of McCall developed an affection for it and in 1954 the local newspaper launched a contest to name “Slimy Slim”. The grand prize was $40 and the contest judges included, among others, the governor of the state, Len Jordan, and a couple of legislators. “Sharlie” was chosen and the name stuck.
No photos of Sharlie exist, and no one has taken video or film of the mysterious monster. But sightings continued through the 1960’s and 1970’s. In 1980, a Pennsylvania biology student published a research paper on Sharlie concluding that the small size of Payette Lake would make it difficult to support a large breeding population, which may also contribute to inbreeding and the eventual decline towards extinction.
The last documented sighting that we can find is in 1996 by Kate Wolf of Boise who saw it from a pontoon boat. It had humps “with peaks like the back of a dinosaur”.
So what are we to think about Sharlie, this mysterious species on this April Fool week?
In a 1985 article in McCall’s The Star News, Fish and Game Fisheries Biologist Don Anderson said that tests on Payette Lake showed no evidence of a large sea serpent. “Maybe he’s just smarter than us,” said Anderson. “I want him to be there, and if he is, we’ll protect him.”
After all, that is the mandate of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission…to preserve, protect, perpetuate and manage all of Idaho’s wildlife…sea monsters included!