The severed head of the underwater moose while being butchered. Its "scarf" can bee seen on its chin

The severed head of the underwater moose while being butchered. Its "scarf" can bee seen on its chin

Conrad and Veronica Spence posing with the horn-like antlers of the underwater moose

Conrad and Veronica Spence posing with the horn-like antlers of the underwater moose

Underwater Moose

The underwater moose, known locally as etampeegomoosowa, is an unknown semi-aquatic species of moose, or moose-like animal reported around northern Manitoba. The sightings are centred around the remote Cree community of Pukatawagan. The underwater moose is claimed as being quite similar to their known relative, but with several differences. They are described as having large stocky bodies, small heads, short legs, pointed ears, a wider nose and a low-slung belly like a cow or bison. They are reported to have large webbed pads around their hooves, and have a strange series of gill-like flaps around their neck and chin, which is assumed by locals to have to do with obtaining or retaining oxygen under water. The colour of their fur ranges from grey to the ordinary dark brown colour. Their body is sometimes described as having an unusual shape, more akin to an overweight horse then a moose. The description of an underwater moose’s antlers is inconsistent, with some reporting them to have tiny antlers, closer to a bull’s horns, and others report them having thinner, branchier antlers that point slightly upwards. Unlike normal moose, which are already good swimmers, sometimes diving 20 ft, the underwater moose seems almost entirely aquatic, rarely leaving the water, similar to a hippo. When on land, it’s described as having an unusual wobbly or jerky gait, almost like a pig or bear.

According to a man from Pukatawagan named Paul, he and his friend were moose hunting in Morin Lake and set up camp on the shore. After not finding any, they went to sleep, but were quickly awoken by the sound of a very large animal coming out of the water. Paul shone his flashlight at the animal, and noticed its bizarre rack and strange proportions. As he was pointing his flashlight at it, his friend took a couple shots, but it somehow seemed unaffected, and it casually strode back into the water. He said the sound of the shots hitting the animal "sounded like a bullet hitting an empty bag." They followed it in their canoe, but as they got close, it dove under the water, and they never saw it again. Another encounter in Morin Lake was by a small group of hunters who came across several underwater moose swimming in the lake. They shot at them, but none of them were killed. Another man, also from Pukatawagan claimed to have encountered an underwater moose in 2003. He was hunting with his partner beside an unnamed lake when they spotted the head of a moose, mostly obscured by its rack, swimming towards them. They shot it and it fell under the water. An hour later they saw presumably the same animal, seemingly completely unaffected, run into the treeline from the water. One of the few examples of someone successfully killing an underwater moose was by a hunter near the Pas, who shot it directly in the eye. He claimed that he noticed that it had a very thick, durable layer of fat and its meat was a strange yellow colour. One woman said her father shot an underwater moose in the ear in Granville lake, who described the meat as a sickly yellowish-green colour, and it tasted disgusting and was very chewy. Presumably this hardy flesh and thick layer of fat aids in insulation in cold lakes and may also explain their seeming immunity to bullets.

The only substantial evidence of the underwater moose besides anecdotal accounts was the specimen killed by Conrad and Veronica Spence, a Cree couple from Nelson House, Manitoba who were both commercial fishermen.  In the fall of 2009, they were setting nets with their friend Henry Wood in an inlet in West Mynarski Lake. While they were there, Veronica heard a strange gasping noise and saw the head of an underwater moose on the surface of the water in the middle of the lake. The “moose” was very strange, with bull-like horns and a wide nose. Although they were not moose hunting, they planned to kill the animal for food, but they had no guns, so they formed a plan moose hunters would sometimes do. Conrad steered their boat and circled the animal while Henry was tying the net line to the antlers as rope. When he grasped one of its antlers, it nearly yanked him overboard, and had to get Conrad to help him, while Veronica became the new driver. Veronica then put the boat in reverse, causing the rope to snap. They repeated the process four times, and they finally succeeded. They threw Henry’s jacket on its head, essentially drowning the animal. Although this probably unethical method of moose hunting would normally have the moose struggle for a minute or two before dying, this creature fought back for half an hour. When they finally killed the animal, they noticed its strangely bulky body, extended abdomen and odd colouration, being brown on its back and black the rest of the way down. One of the strangest details about the animal however, was the strange dark and furry flaps of skin forming a “scarf” on its chin and jaw, which is visible in the above photo. They ate the animal, but not before taking photos. Unlike the Granville Lake encounter, they described the underwater moose’s meat to actually taste quite good, being rich and gamey in flavour. Canadian cryptozoologist John Warms convinced the Spence family to donate the antlers for a DNA test, and they did. The first test was inconclusive, showing that it was in the Alces (moose) genus. The second test however had more interesting results, showing that it was actually much more genetically closer to European and north Asian moose populations then North American specimens, leading the scientists to speculate it might even by a hybrid. This does not explain however, its many anatomical features which no known cervid has.