What is Nahuelito?

Nahuelito is a legendary creature said to inhabit the waters of Lake Nahuel Huapi in Patagonia, Argentina. The legend of Nahuelito dates back to the early 1920s, when a man named Martín Sheffield claimed to have seen a large animal with a swan-like neck in Lake Epuyén. This sparked the interest of Clemente Onelli, the director of the Buenos Aires Zoo, who organized an expedition to search for the alleged plesiosaur in Patagonia. However, despite months of searching, the expedition was unsuccessful.

It was not until later that the legend of Nahuelito truly gained traction. In 1922, a businessman from Bariloche named Don Primo Capraro put together a float for a carnival parade featuring a figure of a plesiosaur. This float was photographed by Don Rafael Soriani, a photographer from Bariloche, and the image quickly spread through the media, leading many to believe that the plesiosaur had been captured.

Plesiosaurs were a group of aquatic reptiles that lived during the time of the dinosaurs, approximately 200 million years ago. They are characterized by their long necks, small heads, and large flippers, which they used to swim through the water. There were several different species of plesiosaurs, including the long-necked elasmosaurids and the short-necked pliosaurids. Some species were relatively small, while others reached lengths of up to 50 feet.

Despite their fearsome reputation, plesiosaurs eventually went extinct along with the dinosaurs during the mass extinction event that occurred 66 million years ago. Today, they are known only through fossilized remains and the stories and myths that have been passed down through the ages.

Now, a new docufiction film called “Bajo Superficie” (Under Surface) is being produced in Bariloche to explore the legend of Nahuelito and its role in the history and culture of the people of Bariloche. The film team recently conducted an interview with Carlos Soriani, the grandson of Don Rafael Soriani, who shared his own experiences with the lake and its alleged inhabitant, as well as his grandfather’s original negative of the famous plesiosaur float photo.

While the existence of Nahuelito has yet to be proven, the legend of the creature continues to captivate the imagination of those who hear it. “Bajo Superficie” aims to shed light on the mystery of Nahuelito and the role it has played in the history and culture of the people of Bariloche.


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