Lake Tota is, the largest lake in Colombia, situated deep in the mountainous region of Boyaca, it is the source of the Upia River which flows into the Orinoco River basin. It has a length of 7 miles (55 kilometres), 4 miles wide (6 kilometres) and a depth of 58 metres (190 feet).The average water temperature is 13 °C.
It is the habitat for rainbow trout and several threatened bird species Including the Least Bittern and Apolinar’s Wren.The area around Lake Tota is one of the major onion producing regions and the western shore is a popular tourist destination. The river was considered a religious centre for the local Muisca indigenous community, who once inhabited the area.
Since the 16th century the story goes that a monster inhabits the lake, often referred to as the diablo ballena (devil whale). For centuries the Muisca tribe believed in the mysterious animal and passed the tale down through generations. It is described as ‘a big black snake, with eyes that shine’.
The earliest note of it was by the conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada. Later it was written down 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’ Then the French explorer Gaspard Théodore Mollien wrote in 1823, an ‘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 and politician 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’.
José Jerónimo Triana, a Colombian physician and explorer, noted the monster’s presence in his book Myths, legends, traditions and folklore of Lake Tota, when referring to the lake he wrote the ‘lagoons were the residences of a sublime divinity and the soulful Indians’.
The monster was also defined as "a monstrous fish", "a black monster",and even as "the Dragon" and as a "divine animal archetype" In 1880, Lilia Montaña de Silva stated in her book, that the story that a black monster lived in the enchanted waters of the lagoon still persisted among the residents surrounding Lake Tota, in the town of Cuitiva."
Tourists who flock to the Western shore of the lake still look out for sightings of the creature. There are no recent sightings I could find. The creature sounds like a large eel or snake or even a primitive whale. It may have long since died if it existed. If a sighting is reported of course ,then it still perhaps inhabits the lake.
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