We’ve heard of sea serpents, and we’ve heard of the mysterious panthers that appear in wooded areas throughout the world – even where they are said not to exist. But it’s one thing to suggest panthers may be displaced to locations ordinarily too cold for them to survive in. It’s a completely different one to suggest there may be panthers living underwater. But that’s precisely the legend told by five tribes from the north and northeast.
While divers haven’t necessarily been able to snap any photographs of the creature told about in legend, there are still many who believe somewhere under the waters of Lake Michigan and elsewhere there exists a panther-like creature that has managed to survive for decades or even centuries.
The Anishinaabe, the Odawa, the Mishibijiw, the Ojibwe, the Algonquins, and the Potawatomi all have their own theories about where this mysterious creature could have come from. Their stories, passed down for generations tell of a powerful supernatural entity that takes the form of a panther when above the water – itself being the most powerful creature in existence to live underwater. The creature was said to be lord of the under water world and a large component of several cultural ceremonies.
Of course today the creature is widely considered no more than a legend. And it does stand to reason that nothing could live underwater in the way the legends suggest. There are tales of the panther lying dormant under the water for years, sleeping and eating and communicating with others like it only to return occasionally to take part in the myths that were told and retold. And while the tradition is kept alive even today, some of the details are often considered apocryphal rather than literal interpretations of the creature. While fantastic, the creature is most often considered nothing more than a metaphor.
It is odd, however, that this same creature would very closely fit the description of mysterious panthers that suddenly appear out of nowhere and then disappear just as suddenly. These OOPAs (Out of Place Animals) are often sighted as part of a much larger trend in the wide scope of the legends.
It’s almost as though they were sharing stories of seeing an unusual creature that they knew couldn’t exist in their area – at least not anymore. An odd feature of many of the sighting locations is a nearby body of water, although most places in the midwest and northeast are in proximity to bodies of water. Still, the fact that there have been panther sightings that coincide with the idea of the underwater panther is perhaps worth a second look. Is it a physical entity, or perhaps some sort of ghost dwelling somewhere within mythology that only occasionally rises up once again to show the world that it should still be seen and spoken about?