The Curious Tale of Bessie

For centuries tales of Bessie, the Lake Erie monster have been told.  Most of these tales are all the same.  They describe a brief sighting of a vicious snake-like creature about 50 feet long and 4 feet in circumference with sparkling eyes and large fins that churn up the water with foam as it wrestles with it’s prey.  As quickly as she comes to the surface she’s gone and witnesses are left with wonder about what they just saw.  I don’t like unanswered questions.  I wanted to know more about Bessie and why she is so angry so I did a little research of my own and learned a much more interesting tale.

Lake Erie is the 4th largest Great Lake and the 11th largest lake globally in terms of surface area, but it is the shallowest of the Great Lakes.  It’s on the international boundary between Canada and the United States and touches 4 states, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.  Lake Erie is very important to Ohio’s economy, but is in danger due to overfishing, algae blooms, pollution, and trash.  Could these dangers be what angers Bessie?

Some days the waters of Lake Erie can be calm and still and resemble black glass.  On one such day, during a beautiful sun rise there was a curious sighting of something in the water off the coast of Fairport Harbor.  An anonymous beachgoer was watching the sunrise and searching for beach glass in the sand when something close to shore caught her eye.  A graceful creature was gliding through the water and periodically breaking the surface of the stillness.  The witness was mesmerized by the movement of this creature.  It was far too small to be the infamous Bessie.  The creature’s tail fin danced above the water like a ballerina’s pirouette.  Our witness knew this was not the snake serpent the legends spoke of and it definitely wasn’t a fish.  The creature continued to dance with the water and lifted it’s head to the surface.  It met eyes with our witness for more than a fleeting moment.  There was a connection between the 2.  The creature could see our witness had great respect for the lake because she was picking up trash from the beach as she was combing for beach glass.  Our witness could now see the creature was a beautiful lake mermaid.  Was THIS the real Bessie?  Was our Lake Erie monster a mermaid all this time?

Just then a boat zipped by further off shore.  The mermaid turned quickly to look at the sound.  She saw the boaters mindlessly letting trash blow from their boat into the water.  This clearly angered her.  She turned to look back at our witness, this time her eyes were sparkling, like that of the monster.  She dove into the depths and was gone, but what our witness saw next was truly incredible.  The waters started churning, the peaceful black glass became angry Erie and a very long serpent was now racing after the careless boaters.  Our witness claims that the beautiful lake mermaid turned into the monster of lore.

Let this be a lesson.  Lake Erie is important to our economy, the ecosystem, and Bessie.  Let us not anger her.  As a simple start, let’s do our part to keep our beaches clean and please our mermaid.  She will reward us with beach glass treasures.

Junie Balloonie has sponsored a mermaid for the Fairport Harbor outdoor art exhibit, Mermaid Out Of Water.  Our mermaid was created by my very talented daughter, Taylor (who is the real Junie Balloonie).  The Curious Tale of Bessie mermaid is on display outside my shop.  Many other mermaids are on display throughout the town.  The exhibit runs July through September.  Come visit us and see how life is better in a beach town.


“Water is the driving force of all nature.”     ~Leonardo da Vinci



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