UM Urban Legends Series: What’s lurking in Lake-O?

Three-eyed flying fish, giant flesh-eating squid and mutated monster snakes have all been living in Lake Osceola [Lake-O] for decades. At least, that’s what everyone thinks.
“My group has lunch out on the patio of the Rat every week, and we have a good view of Lake Osceola,” Khaleem Mohammed-Ali, President of Solutions Interdisciplinary Forum, said. “What’s with those giant fish? Mutants released from a botched experiment? And how about the several times we have seen dozens of fish leaping high out of the water, as though they were being hunted by a large predator? And the ‘lake monster?'”
Earlier this month, the Miami Hurricane confirmed that alligators, crocodiles and manatees have all made their way into the lake in the past.
In 1947, UM began the excavation of Lake Osceola [Lake-O], which is named in honor of the Seminole Chief Osceola, who refused to yield to Civil War troops. UM sold the leftover soil to the City of Miami in order to raise money for the project. It then used it in the construction of the Rickenbacker Causeway.
In an article printed in the Miami Hurricane, Jack Maurer, director of the UC from 1964 to 1984, remembered the lake suffering from a “duck malady,” whereby every few years, dead ducks would start appearing.
“I remember [people]telling me they were out there scooping ducks into boats,” Mauer said. “But that’s part of life, I guess.”
Stuart Bloch, the Student Government [SG] president from 1962-63, said SG’s most important contribution during his administration was bringing in a live ibis as the UM mascot.
After suffering from malnutrition for two weeks, “Icky the Ibis,” the first ibis on campus, was taken to what was then the Crandon Park Zoo, where he died in captivity.
Disgruntled students then went looking for Bloch and tried to throw him in the lake.
“The whole student body was like the Humane Society!” Bloch, now an attorney, said. “There was an ‘anti-Stu Bloch’ campaign, and there were even some funny jokes about it.”
Since its inception, Lake-O has played host to a variety of activities that have been confirmed to have actually taken place.
During the 1960s, the Hurricane Skiers performed parasail routines, human skiing pyramids and water ballet in their yearly shows. During Sportsfest and Cane Craze, racing canoes have occasionally capsized, dumping the shocked and displeased rowers into the lake. At one point, UM even discussed the feasibility of constructing a floating concert stage in the center of the lake, but the money was never donated or raised.
It wasn’t until a few years after the completion of the Rat that swimming in Lake-O became prohibited. Legend has it that a senior taking a shortcut back to the dorms decided to swim across the lake rather than walk. He bet his friends that he was up to the task, supposedly after an evening of drinking, and started swimming across. Two days before graduation, and 20-feet from the opposite side, he drowned.
Last year, Chad Meredith, a freshman majoring in political science, drowned in Lake-O after he decided to take a late-night swim in the lake. Since then, new signs have been posted around the lake reminding students that swimming is prohibited.
The Miami Hurricane will continue to investigate popular urban legends at UM through the month of February.

For suggestions on urban legends to be researched, please contact Jorge Arauz, News Editor, at

February 25, 2003


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.