TAHOE CITY - Each report of a Tahoe Tessie sighting adds to the mythology of the lake's legendary creature.
The legend is so prevalent that Beth Douglas, of Sacramento, thought Tessie sightings happen every day in Tahoe.
That's why Douglas didn't blink at her friend Ron Talmage's reaction last Friday afternoon to a dark shape undulating at the lake's surface about 100 yards off Tahoe Park Beach.
"Does that look solid to you?" Talmage, of Rocklin, said to Douglas.
When Douglas replied that the shape - with three to five humps along its back - did look solid, Talmage flatly said "Damn, that's Tessie."
"It was so cool," Douglas added. "The way he said it was so calm, I thought it (the Tessie sighting) was an everyday occurrence."
What Talmage and Douglas described was the subject of a talk - "USOs: Unidentified Swimming Objects" - in January 2004 by Dr. Charles Goldman of the UC Davis Tahoe Research Group.
At that lecture, sponsored by the Squaw Valley Institute, Goldman spoke of a conference he held 20 years ago at the University of Nevada, Reno on the subject of USOs. A number of scientists there testified they had seen Tahoe Tessie. All Tessie sightings have one thing in common, said Goldman - no one ever sees the head or tail, only dark objects in the water. To illustrate his point, Goldman decided to conduct a number of experiments. He created a photo of "Tessie" by capturing the splash from rocks thrown in the water. Another photo he uses shows what looks like a series of humps in the lake, which in reality are only waves.
Other theories postulate Tessie could be a large sturgeon.
Despite the speculation, Tessie was no less real for Talmage and Douglas.
"There were no big boats (on the water)," Talmage added. "I thought 'Whoa, this sucker's real.'"
No photographic evidence was obtained.
- Tribune News Service reporter Melissa Siig contributed to this article.