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The Monster of Lake Tota is a legendary aquatic animal known in many works as: diablo ballena, lit. 'devil whale' and is an inhabitant of Lake Tota in Colombia. The Muisca, who inhabited the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, believed this monster was living in Lake Tota. The earliest reference in modern history was made by the conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada. He described the monster as "A fish with a black head like an ox and larger than a whale" (Lucas Fernández de Piedrahita, 1676) and Antonio de Alcedo, 1788 )). The monster was also defined as "a monstrous fish", "a black monster", and even as "the Dragon" and as a "divine animal archetype".

The lake is home to a large variety of fish including the rainbow trout and a large bird population, but is there a more unusual creature residing here? Since the 16th century it has been said that a mythical monster inhabits the lake, often referred to as the diablo ballena (devil whale); for centuries the Muisca tribe believed in the mysterious animal and its story was passed down through generations.

The lake is surrounded by Muisca folklore. It is said that a ‘Moneta’ (a wise old indigenous priest) was preparing for a powerful Muisca confederation to ‘exorcise the cruel and evil spirit’ named Busiraco. The event took place in a large depression in the ground, which now forms the Lake Tota. The ceremony Busiraco was performed in an attempt to resolve the suffering of the hot summer and its resulting water shortage, this eventually led to the creation of Lake Tota. The stories of the ceremony mention a monster, ‘a big black snake, with eyes that shined’, an integral part of the tale of the creation of the lake.

There are many other instances of references to the mythical creature, from various sources, when retelling the story of how the lake was created. The earliest note in modern history was by conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, which was followed by priest and historian Lucas Fernández de Piedrahita in 1676 who described the monster as a ‘fish with a black head like an ox and larger than a whale’ in his book General History of the Conquest of the New Kingdom of Granada: the SCRM – King Charles II of Spain and the Indies.

The next was by French explorer Gaspard Théodore Mollien in 1823, who stated that the ‘evil creature inhabits its depth in dwellings’ in his book The Journey of Gaspard Théodore Mollien by the Republic of Colombia.

In 1852 Manuel Ancízar a Colombian writer, politician and teacher recorded the monster in his book The Pilgrimage Alpha for the northern provinces of New Granada. He wrote in his introduction ‘this tall story involved the freshwater devil’.

The story of the mythical monster in Lake Tota has been told for generations, it has gained lots of attention and quite a following. Today sightings of this lake monster dosen't occur and many people visit the lake to relax on its white sandy beaches, rent boats and hike the surrounding mountains, while always looking out for a glimpse of the mysterious monster.

Possible Explanations[]

The Monster of Lake Tota is similar to Black Demon - a cryptid from shores of Central America, Black Demon is said to be a Megalodon, Monster of Lake Tota could also be a living Megalodon, a living dinosaur such as Mossosaurus. It can also be living Livyatan an extinct genus of sperm whales who hunted even Megalodon, their fossils were found in Peru near Colombia. The monster also could be new species of strange whale or colossal fish. Although the lake is big, it is a freshwater - whales doesn't live in freshwater. The Monster of Lake Tota also could just be an old made up myth.