Saturday, 10 April 2021

Audio Interview on the Loch Ness Monster


It is time for another audio interview with yours truly. I was invited for a chat by Corbin Maxey recently, who is an animal expert and biologist who will normally be found talking about animals that have been recognised by science.

Since he had already done a podcast on the Bigfoot, it was time for the Loch Ness Monster and that was where I came in. We had a good conversation and some questions old and new were discussed and answered. Whether you agree with the answers is another thing. 

The link to the podcast can be found here,

The author can be contacted at

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Readers' Letters to the Newspapers in 1933


Back on the 17th October 1933, The Scotsman published an account of some sightings of the new phenomenon of the Loch Ness Monster. The story had been running for about five months previously up in the Highland newspapers, but the Scotsman's increasing coverage from that point raised its profile throughout the nation. So it was on the 23rd October that a selection of letters from readers with their varying opinions were published which we shall now have a look at. First we have a letter from Captain Munro.

All the accounts that I have seen point to this "monster" being a large grey seal. Seals have been known to make long trips inland, generally over frozen ground. A seal may have ascended the Ness during a spate, and gone overland when he came to rapids. It might also be a large sea otter, or a pair of them. Whatever it is, it is no new animal to the zoologist, and it is certainly not a fish. Seals are often caught by drift-net fishermen on the West Coast, and a drifter might have had one on board and dumped  it in the loch as a jest and to get rid of a troublesome shipmate. If a seal, when he has dived he would come up again some distance off, and also the same with an otter; but in either case,  probably only the nose and eyes would be above the water. It is strange that no stalker with his glass has sighted this "stranger." Whatever it is, it should not be interfered with or killed.

D. J. Munro, Captain, R.N. October 20 1933

Now we already know about Captain Munro as he was the first person to try and place camera stations around the loch via a share offering in 1938. Monster Hunter, Ted Holiday mentioned him in his "Great Orm of Loch Ness" book in 1968 and I wrote about him in an earlier article linked here. The Captain first appears in this letter and is sceptical of anything mysterious about the whole affair, suggesting seals or otters. That attitude evidently softened in the years ahead as the monster proved stubbornly unsolvable and he turned to camera stations. The next letter is from a Mr. Morrison.

Sir, Allow me to make a suggestion which may be an explanation of  the phenomenon which apparently is causing such a scare among people in the neighbourhood of Loch Ness - the so called "Loch Ness Monster." Many years ago a man in my father's employment, whom I knew very well, saw a creature of an appearance similar to that described in the Press in a fresh-water lake in one of the outer islands of the Hebrides. He got such a fright, that it was said that it left its impression on his eyes till the day of his death. The matter was investigated by others who saw this apparition on the lake afterwards, and it was found out that it was nothing more or less than a number of  otters following one another in a line. This episode may help to clear up  the "mystery"of the "Loch Ness Monster".


Here we have a somewhat tongue in cheek story of a man being fooled by a train of otters, mistaking them for a frightful creature. Now we have blogged on monster lochs on the Isle of Lewis and Harris a couple of times. There was the creature of Loch Ulladale (link here) and more monster lochs here and here. Mind you, I can't see any link between those and this story, and it may not have even been that island, but we note otters are getting trotted out again as a solution. The next letter is more interesting.

Sir, Amongst many letters to your paper I have not observed a contribution from a believer of the plesiosaurus. To any such believer who has not come forward - I should like to present the following information. Some years ago a skull was taken in the salmon nets at the mouth of a West Coast river. The Gaelic inhabitants of the district called it a crocodile, but I have an idea that their own name for it  may be vastly different. I have examined this skull on many occasions, and it undoubtedly possesses the teeth and approximately the jaws of a crocodile. So far as I know, the skull is still in existence, and if any believer in a family of old-fashioned monsters would like to spend two days and some money in visiting the place, making inquiries and seeing the skull, I believe that I can arrange the matter. A knowledge of Gaelic is almost essential, and the visitor must not blame me if he finds the skull of a crocodile thrown into the water by an ex-sailor's wife when spring cleaning.

I am &c. C. W. INGRAM.

You will see Mr. Ingram is an early contributor to the plesiosaur theory and tries to link it to an odd story about a skull pulled in with salmon nets at the mouth of a west coast river. Assuming the skull was indeed pulled from the estuary, it obviously could not be a crocodile. What other candidates should be considered? There are no doubt several, it could be a Beluga whale which strayed from the northern waters to be stranded on the west coast of Scotland and die. The picture below shows how its skull looks crocodilian with teeth and a narrow jawline.

This may not be the solution, but these animals should be considered first before introducing plesiosaurs. Where that skull from 1933 resides now is anyone's guess, but we do not think it has anything to do with the Loch Ness Monster. The next letter brings us back to stories of giant eels.

Sir, The "oldest inhabitant" has been strangely backward, and has not yet been trotted out to state the facts of this most interesting subject. Well, here is one of them, at last brought up in Upper Stratherrick, near Loch Ness, of a family located there for well over 400 years, and in close contact with the people of that district. We knew, and, accepted without question, from tradition and common knowledge, that there were and always had been "monster eels" (plural) in Loch Ness and not a "Loch Ness Monster" (singular), for there were many, and of various sizes.

We accepted as a certainty, based on experience that the body of anyone drowned in would never be found. To talk of underwater currents in is nonsense. There are none. Anyone can dispose of an obscure question which lie cannot solve by saying that it is all a myth, good enough for the ignorant and credulous. He may even deign to explain it in some paltry and superficial way; posing as one too wise (shall we say too materialistic?) to be taken in by fairy tales. Such negative or destructive criticism is futile. The critic has not even begun to understand the subject.

Let us get some competent naturalist from South Kensington to interview all these who can give direct evidence, to collate their statements, and give his own skilled conclusions for the benefit of the public, now peculiarly interested in this question.

One might suggest as a hypothesis that, at some remote period when the world was young, eels, migrating from the Garry, the Moriston, the Foyers or Farigaig rivers, through on their way to spawn in the deep Sargasso Sea, have thought it unfit for them to go so far while the depths were available so near their home.

Hence a race of land-locked eels may have evolved. Some of these may have survived the spawning crisis and developed into the "enormous eels" always traditional in Stratherrick, Some such abnormal creatures may possibly be the foundation of our tales of the "each-uisge " (anglice "kelpie'') or of the "seilcheag" (great water-snail), or even of the sea serpent, all of them interesting monsters upon which we need not now dilate, but realities to unsophisticated person: in whom materialism has not yet bred blindness to natural phenomena.


As you can see, the idea of a eunuch eel staying in the loch and growing progressively larger over the years and decades is not new. It is a theory as old as the monster and in fact predates the Nessie era by an indeterminate span. So this letter is itself not new in content but re-affirms such stories. However, as pointed out in previous articles, one searches the old Highland newspapers in vain for any stories of large eels of any notable size being caught in Loch Ness.

We get stories of large marine eels being caught or found along the Highland sea coasts nearby and one can be sure that if a seven footer was landed at Loch Ness, it would also make the news with no effort. Note that "Old Stratherrick" does not expand upon this "common knowledge" to back up his claims, apart from the statement that the loch doesn't give up its dead, which is not really related to the issue of oversized eels.

But it cannot be denied that the locals believed in such things, but based pretty much on anecdotal evidence in the same way as our modern monster. That they were called eels is more based on speculation rather than one being dragged ashore for classification. In fact, I would suggest "giant eel" was one descriptive term for them like "plesiosaur" was during the 1960s and 1970s. It was basically considered a good candidate by 19th century locals. One such sighting from 1885 by a Roderick Matheson would have helped propagate this tag for the monster:

Mr. Matheson was part owner of the schooner Bessie, which frequently made passages from the West Coast to the East via the Caledonian Canal and, of course, Loch Ness. On one of these journeys Mr. Matheson, who was mate of the vessel, saw in Loch Ness what he described as ‘the biggest eel I ever saw in my life. It had’ he said ‘a neck like a horse, and a mane somewhat similar’

Moving on from eels, comes a letter from T.J. with some florid and prosaic language.

Sir, - With monsters so much "in the air" - to say nothing of the lochs - it seems rather strange that none of your correspondents should have drawn attention to Mr J. St J. Graham's delightful thriller, "The Wee Loch", in the current number of Chambers' Journal. Compared with the creature therein "featuring," surely 

the monsters of the prime
Rending each other in their slime
Where mellow music matched with him!

while the editorial instinct, in anticipating the present visitation, is almost as marvelous as the marvel itself. Mr Graham's monster is not seen; it is smelt, and it occurs to me, to wonder whether anything 'uncommonly "ancient and fishlike" been encountered in the atmosphere of Loch Ness? I would also suggest that the healthy excitement aroused by this "'questionable shape" - alas, in Shakespeare's sense, unquestionable!  - calls for addition to our numerous anthologies, a collection of stories of monsters.

Why not call it - shade of John Knox! - A Monstrous Regiment? Anyway, permit me to make your readers a present of the suggestion.

I am &c - T. J.

I am not sure the author has much to say here apart from one wondering what that short story entitled "The Wee Loch" was all about? Apart from that, he asks a question as to whether the monster has been detected by the sense of smell. That would seem an irrelevant question as most sightings of the creature are so far away from the witness. Indeed, a search of the sightings database confirms there is no such data. The only sense that really matters here is sight with the rare addition of sound. The last letter addresses the issue of sea serpents.

Sir,—Some of your readers may be interested to hear that as far back as between 1858-60 I heard a minister of the Scottish Church assert that he had seen a sea-serpent. I cannot recall whether he said it was in the North Sea or elsewhere. He had lived for some time at Lochaber. He was afterwards minister of the Parish Church of Golspie and librarian to the Duke of Sutherland: Dr Joass, a geologist and antiquarian. Of course, he was laughed at.

This morning I had a visit from the daughter a minister in East Ross-shire. I asked her if she knew him. She did; she remembered about it. She had seen a drawing of it made by him. There may still be some in the north who remember about it and where he saw it.


The Reverend James Joass did indeed claim a sea serpent sighting but dated to 1873 and the sketch below is taken from Bernard Heuvelman's great work "In the Wake of the Sea Serpent".  

The relationship between the Loch Ness Monster and Scottish sea serpents was covered on this blog in a previous article (link). There is no doubt in my mind that Nessie is a sea serpent either marooned in the loch or an itinerant visitor ... or both. That ends this series of interesting letters and they continued to flow into all manner of newspapers for years to come. Some entertaining, some informative and some just frustrating. But everyone is entitled to their opinion.

The author can be contacted at

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Back to the Surgeon's Photograph

It is time to look over some recent debate on this photograph and perhaps some new information that leads to the true location of the picture. It is the most iconic photograph that purports to be of the Loch Ness Monster and it just about features in every documentary or major article devoted to the monster. Since 1994 and the publication of "Nessie: The Surgeon's Photo Exposed" by Alistair Boyd and Dave Martin, it concluded that the photo was a hoax perpetrated by big game hunter. Duke Wetherell, his family and associates in revenge for how the Daily Mail handled his expedition.

Most have accepted that theory but others have not and scrutinized the hoax story suspecting it is a hoax itself. I must admit, having read the book, that I side with its evidence and reasoning, but I always keep an eye open for any thinking on the matter. So, well known cryptozoologist, Karl Shuker, recently posted his thoughts on why the Boyd-Martin hoax theory should be treated with suspicion. His article is here.

He has various things to say in his long article, but there are some main points which are worthy of discussion here. The first is his objection that there is no evidence that the submarine toy used to mount the plastic wood monster neck was ever used. No photos of it, written notes of the time or pieces of the contrivance. I agree with him, there is absolutely nothing of that kind to back up what Wetherell's stepson, Christian Spurling, said about his monster model. You basically either accept it or reject it.

That the components for such a hoax were available at the time is not disputed or perhaps even the engineering to make such an item float in the water (though Karl is not totally convinced of that without a demonstration). I myself do not doubt that the model would float, I am not so sure they could make it submerge with that long neck attached, but I am also not sure it had to. In this case, I am quite happy to accept such a model could be constructed and accomplish its task, unless someone can provide evidence to the contrary.

Karl also has doubts about how the model would look in a photo at Loch Ness and thinks the item looks further out than is suggested in the hoax account, perhaps too far to wade out. That is a difficult thing to establish without knowing where the actual location was. Robert Wilson's statement that it was somewhere near the Altsigh Burn is nigh on impossible to prove. However, Boyd and Martin conducted their own experiment with their own model which established that a similar photograph with similar foreground and background could be done from only a few metres from shore.

That may sound like deep water, but you can walk out on level ground in the water for such a distance before the ground begins to worryingly recede from you at the loch. The original uncropped Surgeon's Photograph and the Alastair Boyd experiment are shown below (original first) and you can see the similarities. There is one caveat to these, Boyd said he had to crop his picture to match the original one.

Since he thinks Wilson's accomplice, Maurice Chambers, transferred from a Leica 50mm film to a quarter plate, he thinks this involved cropping as well. Though why he says the top was cropped and not the bottom is not made clear. Apart from that,  I do not think the way the Wilson picture presents itself poses any issues. The only quibble is how different the two cameras sixty years apart were, which could present different results for the same view.


But let us move on the main contentious issue of divergent testimonies. There are at least three people testifying that the photograph was faked. The first was Ian Wetherell, son of Marmaduke, who confessed to his participation in an article written by Sunday Telegraph columnist Philip Purser on 7th December 1975. He said he went up with his father and Maurice Chambers to stage the shoot. Ian himself took the pictures and Chambers took the pictures to be developed. However, the article was largely ignored and lost in the noise of the anticipation of the Rines underwater pictures.

The second is the star witness and step-brother of Ian, Christian Spurling who was interviewed by David Martin in 1991 and subsequently by Alistair Boyd. Some of the interviews were recorded but, to my knowledge, have not been made publicly available in any form. Spurling died shortly after in 1993. He said he did not go to the loch and manufactured his hybrid monster-submarine for the Wetherells at his home in Twickenham, London.

The third witness was a Major Norman Egginton, a colleague of Robert Wilson, who wrote to Nicholas Witchell in 1970 claiming that Wilson had boasted of his involvement in the hoax. This letter constituted quite an amazing coincidence as Witchell had merely written to a bookshop seeking some Loch Ness Monster titles. One of the bookshop directors was Egginton who opened up to Witchell how Wilson had confessed all in 1940 to him and two others. Why Witchell ignored this letter in his subsequent book on the monster is not clear, did he doubt Egginton or was this an inconvenient story?

Now the problem is that these three witnesses do not deliver testimonies that are in complete harmony with what is known and this forms a major basis for objections to the hoax theory.

  • Wetherell and Spurling disagree on the material for the neck. Ian said rubber tubing while Spurling said plastic wood.
  • Both of them agree that the photo is a model but Egginton claims Wilson said it was a monster cut out superimposed on an empty photo of the loch.
  • Ian Wetherell says Chambers handled the development of the pictures while Robert Wilson (the "surgeon") himself said he took the plates to a chemist in Inverness.
  • Ian Wetherell claimed they shot the model moving to create a V-wake but the photo evidently shows a stationary object.
  • Ian Wetherell stated the model neck was a few inches high while Spurling said it was a foot high.

Now let us get onto the general subject of contradictions between witness testimonies as this is not an unfamiliar subject to myself and other researchers on the subject of the Loch Ness Monster. By way of example, a recent case I looked at from September 1933 concerned multiple eyewitnesses to a large creature seen in the loch. That article is here and once read you will note that despite looking at the same object, the eyewitnesses drew and described a creature that was not quite the same. 

Does this mean their accounts are not to be regarded as honest and trustworthy? Of course not, and one will find these degrees of inconsistency throughout the literature where imperfect humans are involved. This leads us into the issue of how to handle parallel stories as one should not just receive them all as acceptable just because people make mistakes. Some people do not make mistakes - they tell lies.

To my mind, there are different levels of inconsistency that exist. The first is a person's testimony which is at variance with empirical facts. For example, they may state that it was a fine, sunny day on the date in question whereas the weather report states it rained all day or they stated a person they met later was named John Smith where in fact it was Reginald Perrin.

The second instance is where a person's testimony is at variance with themselves in what the person recounts at another time. The other accounts may not be related entirely to the first account, but may contain elements which pose a contradiction to the other. For example, the person may state they were at a certain place at a certain time, but in another text they state they were somewhere else.

Finally, there are the testimonies of multiple people which are at variance with each other in the whole or the part. The multiple testimonies of Wetherell, Spurling and Egginton being the prime example here and we also mentioned the group who saw the monster in 1933.

Now in my estimation, when assessing claimed events, these three levels are ranked in importance. So the first level poses more problems for a story than the second. Likewise, the second poses more problems for it than the third. I say that because it is more likely for separate minds to produce disharmony than one mind and if a story does not line up with reality, there is little hope for it (unless in our example, the witness got the dates wrong).

So, it is really down to one's tolerance levels as regards inconsistencies. I tolerate the inconsistencies in group accounts because we are not perfect recording machines, but if the inconsistencies become too great, a judgement call has to be made. When that call is made is different for all of us depending on our levels of reasoning, prejudice and how much data is at one's disposal.

So what about Wetherell, Spurling and Egginton? In the case of rubber tubing and plastic wood, we assume Spurling is right as he used the material and Wetherell never asked him and guessed it was rubber when he inspected the submarine at the loch.

Egginton has Wilson stating it was a photographic overlay which makes one wonder how much Wilson was in on the details of the creation of the photo as his role was to hand in the final negatives to the chemist in Inverness and repeat the story given to him? There is a degree of compartmentalization amongst the participants in this story.

The discrepancy between Chambers developing the pictures or Wilson may be explained by Chambers (said to be a keen amateur photographer) developing the originals, checking they were up to the job and rephotographing them for development by Wilson in Inverness. Here we have two distinct but separate developments processes. 

The V-wake versus stationary object is on the face of it not resolvable. Either Wetherell made it up or he had an imperfect recall of events 41 years on and the same goes for the few versus twelve inches for the neck. Spurling must be more likely correct as he made it and Wetherell is again making it up or not recalling properly. Make up your own mind on these and weigh the pros against the cons.

However, there is no reason why someone (like Karl Shuker) should not stick to these objections as a basis for doubting the story behind the hoax. As Karl says, this may not preclude any hoax, but it would preclude this particular hoax story concerning a toy submarine and a moulded head-neck.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the main reason for me why it is true is because three or more people have come forward claiming either direct participation in the hoax or hearing a confession to the deed. Despite the problems with points of testimony, this counts more for me than the finer details. If one person came forward and claimed they did it, I would be dubious about it. If they came forward, not claiming participation, but heard a confession, I would be even more dubious. But these three are separated in time and space. Egginton did not appear to know Wetherell or Spurling and Wetherell had died some years before Boyd and Martin met Spurling, so no chance of collusion or preparation.

That is the way I see it and that leaves us with the issue of the second photograph which is raised in objections to the hoax story. This is not a contradiction per se as no witness mentions it. To be frank, this doesn't surprise me as it never entered the public view until Constance Whyte published it in 1957, and even then, I am not sure it ever appeared in the newspapers.

Nevertheless, the photo exists and a satisfactory explanation for it, if one believes the main photo is a fake, is still beyond our grasp. The claimed differing head shape is not conclusive to me as it is a bit more blurred than the main one (see overlay above). The wave patterns are certainly different, indicating a sufficiently different time or place, unless a gust of wind opportunely came in to ruffle the waters. It is possible they are indeed pictures of the same object.

Boyd and Martin do not offer an explanation, but cast some doubt on the story of the chemist who developed the Wilson plates who claimed he kept the second photo after Wilson expressed no interest in it. Perhaps there is something there to explore, but currently there is no evidence to take it further and there we leave it.


Moving on from the current arguments for and against the Wetherell hoax, I thought I would take another look at the photograph itself and see if there were any clues in it. And why not? There have been plenty of opinions given as to what is visible in the picture beyond the main subject. These range from wires to seagulls to monster limbs to second animals. That is on top of the general views that the main object of interest is a bird, an otter's tail, a branch and so on. I was once told eyewitness testimonies were subjective but photographs were objective. The truth is more likely to be somewhere in between for both cases.

Like the three witnesses to the hoax, there may be three "witnesses" to where the photo was actually taken. So, there are three observations I wish to make which I may class as speculative or even deductive, but not perhaps empirical. The first concerns waves. Below is an uncropped version of the photo and below I add lines to give a clearer view of where the waves are coming from. They are coming in at a slight angle from the left. I estimate (in the absence of a protractor) about 5 degrees from the horizontal.

Now the thing to point out about Loch Ness is that the prevailing wind is from the south west as low pressure fronts from the Atlantic come in rotating anti-clockwise and air currents are forced through the funnel of the Great Glen complex. As the waves that are pushed north east by these winds travel up the loch, the waves weaken as they bend into the two shores along the loch until they roll onto the shore in a parallel fashion. I believe the waves we see coming in from the left in the photo are those weakening waves.

What has this to do with the Wilson monster debate? If Robert Wilson was near Invermoriston on the northern shore as he said, the photo would have the south on its right and the north on its left. Therefore, the prevailing south westerly wind would be coming in on the right and so would the waves they are pushing along. The main reason that they would be coming in from the left is because the photo was taken from the opposite shore where the south is to the left.

Of course, that cannot be presented as a cast iron argument. Perhaps there was some unusual wave generation going on due to boats or a rarer weather front coming in from the east. Perhaps one could even argue the photo is inadvertently reversed. I would deem it unlikely it was boats as Ian Wetherell and his co-conspirators would have sought a place where there was no one else around. However, on the balance of probabilities, the normal prevailing wind is causing those waves.

Now let me move onto the second observation. If the hilltops on the opposite shore had been visible, there would have been a good chance of establishing the general vicinity of the picture. Unfortunately, the hilltops are cropped out and it would be no surprise that this was the intention of Maurice Chambers. But there is a feature present that may offer help. It is the white line on the upper left of the photo above. 

It doesn't look like a stream or the main road which would be largely flat along that stretch, so what is it? With this in mind, I began to search through old photos and postcards for a feature that would match this. I searched both sides of the loch in this case and the best feature I came upon is best shown in this postcard from the 1950s (click on the image to enlarge it). Notice the line heading up at angle on the opposite shore on the right of the postcard. This was taken from a vantage point high up near the village of Foyers which is to the left and out of sight in the postcard. The land feature on the near side of the loch is the spit of land surrounding the estuary of the River Foyers. The old aluminium works is beyond the bottom left near the shore.

This would imply the photo was taken from the shore nearest to Foyers, somewhere near where its river empties into the loch. As to what the feature on the opposite side is, it may be a logging road or something similar, but that is secondary to the fact it is there and a good match for the Wilson photo feature. Now, I could be wrong and someone may come up with some other feature on an old photo, but let us carry this a bit further. A modern satellite picture shows the feature on the left (marked A) starting at the loch and rising into the hills.

Which leads me to the third and final observation. Ian Wetherell was quoted in the 1975 Mandrake article as saying:

We found an inlet where the tiny ripples would look like full size waves out on the loch.

If we draw a line across the loch from the track to Foyers where this feature would be to the left of the field of view, we do actually come to an inlet marked at B, one I have visited on many an occasion at the end of Foyers beach. Could this be the very location where the Surgeon's Photograph was taken those long years ago?

The proposed location obviously fits the prevailing waves theory I presented and it kind of fits in with what we know of the Wetherell expedition. When Marmaduke Wetherell was commissioned by the Daily Mail in December 1933, he started along the south shore going from Dores down to Fort Augustus, so he knew it was a quieter part of the loch and offered better spots to stage a later hoax with less likelihood of interference. In fact, Wetherell's infamous hippo tracks were made on a beach somewhere south of Foyers. Let us just say he was familiar with the area.

When the Wetherells headed to the loch with their toy monster weeks later, they sought that inlet to create the impression of a larger object. How that subplot panned out is not clear. There may be some others inlets around the Foyers river, but the further north you go, the closer you get to the busy aluminium works and the power station (though I suspect this happened on a Sunday). The fact that a water bailiff turned up (Alex Campbell?) suggests it was indeed near the river where anglers are more likely to fish and perhaps closer to April than January as the fishing season ramps up.

All speculation, of course, but food for thought. Eighty seven years on, I camp by the River Foyers once or twice a year and walk along that stretch of beach to its very south end, watching the loch, enjoying the views, contemplating various things. Could it be that yards away, the minuscule remains of a toy submarine with a plastic wood neck now lie amongst the rocks and pebbles, beyond detection but still causing a controversy which echoes down the decades even unto this day?

The author can be contacted at

Sunday, 14 March 2021

The BBC go to Loch Ness and meet Alex Campbell


It was on Sunday the 21st August, 1938 that the BBC broadcast to radio listeners a report on their trip up north to investigate the Loch Ness Monster. It was a 25 minute slot just after 10pm entitled "Fact or Fiction? The Loch Ness Monster" and the Radio Times described it thus:


The Loch Ness Monster 

A Feature Programme from Edinburgh about Scotland's world-famous monster, supposed to be living in Loch Ness, Inverness-shire. With an historical survey of such monsters in the district, traditional speculations on that existence, and accounts from eye-witnesses, recorded by the BBC Mobile Recording Unit. From material supplied by Lieut.Commander R. T. Gould.  An epilogue by E. G. Boulanger, director of the Aquarium of the London Zoo.

Produced by John Pudney

The tradition of a monster - giant serpent or giant lizard - inhabiting the fathomless waters of Loch Ness is at least twelve hundred years old. According to St. Adamnan, who died in 704, St. Columba saw it while on his way to convert the King of the Picts. It has been seen many times since. In 1871 a Mr. Duncan Mackenzie saw a dark, humped creature swimming very fast with an undulating motion. It was seen again in 1903 and reappeared in July, 1930, since when it has been seen (or is alleged to have been seen) a number of times by numerous witnesses, some of whom will come to the microphone this evening. Pictures of some of the witnesses whose voices you will heat will be found on page 9. At the end of the programme E. G. Boulanger will reply with a statement of the case against the monster's existence. 

The year of 1938 was a year on a downward slope for events at Loch Ness. The co-mingling of hype and reality four years before as people of various shades and intentions thronged at the loch was over. The world was becoming more distracted about another great war with Germany. Indeed, the tension concerning Adolf Hitler's claims over the German speaking region of Czechoslovakia was heightening over the weeks surrounding this BBC programme.

I don't know if the BBC were there in the monster fever year of 1934, but better late than never. A promotional page was also printed showing some of the main characters for this production. The picture below that shows their recording van parked up beside the loch ready to interview and record the various testimonies from eyewitnesses.

Now I was previously opining how I would love to have heard this 82 year old radio programme from long ago when I got an email from a fellow enthusiast, Michael Delos. He pointed out that the BBC news website had published excerpts from that programme back in September 2019! Happy days, so I went over to the webpage which you can find here and listen to as well. The length is only about a tenth that of the original but it can help us with the eyewitness accounts. There is also credit due to another cryptid fan, Gary MacEwan, who sent me the scans of the Radio Times article. Teamwork.

So let us look at some of the eyewitnesses who were spoken to. The first was a Miss Janet Fraser who saw the creature from the Halfway House tearoom some five years before. You can see here below facing up to a ponderous looking microphone. Readers may recall her name as a subject of a recent article on this blog entitled "The Long Necks of 22nd September 1933" which you can find here. The available radio excerpt mentions this account but the Radio Times also alludes to a sighting she had two years later and to that we will go as we reproduce the account from the Scotsman newspaper of the 24th June 1935 in which she and over a dozen of customers at the Halfway House tearoom had another long necked sighting. The more witnesses, the better I would say.

Another interviewee was Dom Basil Wedge of the Fort Augustus Abbey (below), who we are told saw it with his school pupils during a Natural History class, which seems eminently appropriate as they witnessed one of nature's most talked about mysteries. The actual contents of his account proved somewhat elusive. Constance Whyte, in her 1957 book. "More Than a Legend" merely mentions him in passing saying that his account does not add to the evidence already set out in her book.

I do not see his account anywhere else, though I am sure it will be in some unspecified Highland newspaper of the time and so we rely on the audio excerpt in which he describes seeing three humps in a line moving north westerly at a great speed. Up next was Duncan MacDonald, who was the proprietor of the garage beside the Invermoriston Pier. We are told that he had seen the beast on no fewer than five occasions. Now we could not find all five of these accounts in our clippings archive, but we did find two of them, both taken again from the Scotsman newspaper. The first is from the 10th May 1934 edition and the other from the 1st March 1938 which are shown below.

The first account is the standard single hump appearance which forms the main class of eyewitness accounts, in this case twenty feet long by four foot high and probably observed from the clearing at Inchnacardoch Bay. I say a standard sighting, but what would we give just to be privileged enough to be witnesses to a "standard" sighting! The second account from four years later is a bit mind boggling when he estimates another back sighting to be about ninety feet in length!

The parallel account from the Inverness Courier does not state this size but rather states its length as "very, very long". Now we may laugh, as Mr. MacDonald suggests, after all, this implies a creature over one hundred feet long if we include the submerged parts. Some, because of this, may further suggest he merely saw a large windrow or wind slick which can appear darker than the surrounding waters. However, windrows do not submerge, move around and turn ninety degrees to present their broadside.

Is (or was) there a monster of such huge proportions in Loch Ness? No other account comes close to stating such a length. There was an account from June 1950 by a C.E. Dunton who described two thirty foot coils separated by up to thirty feet giving us ninety feet, but we can take these to be two creatures. Was Donald MacDonald's creature actually two creatures or did he just overestimate by a factor of two to three times?

This is where we enter the world of statistical outliers. By that I mean descriptions of the monster which are unique to just one or two cases or are contradictory to the general corpus of sightings. So, this ninety foot description is unique to the corpus of accounts, but it is not contradictory to them. We can have statistical outliers that can be both unique and contradictory or one of them. For example, a hypothetical account which describes the beast as displaying a forked tongue like a snake would be unique but not contrary as no one else has given an account which could contradict it.

However, if someone described a creature which had only two fore-flippers and no rear flippers would not only be unique but contrary to the general eyewitness accounts suggesting four limbs. A claim of a ninety foot creature does not disallow smaller creatures of thirty to forty feet and the converse would be true. But, no one else has ever described such a huge creature which begs the question how it managed to evade the sight of everyone else for the last hundred years?

This suggests Mr. MacDonald got this estimate wrong and we should not add the likelihood of a hundred foot creature to our theoretical frameworks for the creature. Nevertheless, what is merely being said is that the tail should not wag the dog, so to speak. If further analysis suggests he may be right, it should not be shot down in an uncritical manner.

We then move onto a younger eyewitness by the name of Patrick MacDonald who is shown below being interviewed by John Pudney. We are told by the Radio Times that he only saw the monster for a few seconds, but like Mr. Wedge, I cannot find the lad's account anywhere, though it may yet languish in a remote newspaper article somewhere. However, he is on the audio excerpt and it turns out he is the son of Donald MacDonald and he saw the creature as it were looking like "an island" in the water before submerging.

Finally, in terms of eyewitnesses, we have no such problem with John MacLean and his twenty yard sighting from June 1938, which is well covered in the literature. But we have already covered the revealing picture below in this previous article, so we will not dwell further on it except to say he is also on our radio excerpt from the BBC website and it would have been recorded only weeks after his sighting.You can see John being interview by the BBC journalist, John Pudney, below.

Such were the accounts and the BBC report is an important part of the Loch Ness Monster archive and I am glad it is preserved, though how one can get to hear all of it is another matter. Which brings us onto the matter of Alex Campbell. You can see him on the right talking to one of the BBC technicians in the recording van from the Radio Times article and is likely the oldest picture of him. Alex is presented in the programme as the journalist who was the first to report on the reappearance of the monster in 1933.

In the BBC website audio excerpts you can hear him talking about his involvement:

I knew it was a good story, something quite out of the ordinary. I puzzled my brains on only one point. In what word could I refer to the creature? At last, monster suggested itself and that is how I introduced the "Loch Ness Monster" to the newspaper world.

Now how does this figure in the history of Alex Campbell? I have not heard all the 1938 programme and add that as a caveat, but it is to be noted that Alex Campbell is not mentioned as an eyewitness, which suggests he was still sticking to the script that his neck and hump sighting of September 1933 was only cormorants to keep his monster-averse employers happy their important Loch Ness water bailiff was not off his rocker. However, this account shows that he was content to be revealed as the journalist who reported on these matters.

When was the earliest date we know he felt safe to admit he had seen the monster? One date is suggested by the Time Magazine dated October 8th, 1951. It reported on a recent TV programme also made by the BBC which styled the question of the monster's existence as a courtroom drama in which various witnesses were called before a judge. One of those witnesses was Alex Campbell who declared "I have seen it myself". What account that was I cannot tell.

Constance Whyte recounts in her book six years later that Campbell admitted to six sightings but there is an anomaly in the same book as his first sighting is recounted anonymously, presumably at his request. So perhaps even then he was not as open and transparent as he may have wished to be. 

So the BBC went to Loch Ness in 1938. They recorded eyewitnesses for their descendants to hear a lifetime later and I wonder what they would have made of that. Like that generation, the monsters seen are likely dead now. We seek their descendants also.

The author can be contacted at

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Otterly Ridiculous


Back in January, I wrote a piece on the famous close up sighting by John MacLean and how new information concluded he was very unlikely to be fooled by what his critics claim was just an otter. That article is here and I always thought it was a bit ridiculous that an experienced observer such as John would mistake a three foot otter for an animal estimated to be twenty foot long. 

So it was no surprise that despite writing that piece that one of the regular naysayers popped up on Facebook a week or so ago claiming ... it was just an otter. Perhaps they believe that repeatedly saying these things make them true. One person replied saying he saw some otters at Loch Ness recently and they are easily recognisable. But since sceptics proclaim there is no Loch Ness Monster, no matter what anyone says, it has to be something else. 

So it was by a convenient coincidence that three otters were recently spotted in the River Ness which flows north from the loch. If you go to the Press and Journal link, you can see a video of them cavorting or feeding in the river. The river is about two hundred feet wide at this point which puts these otters about the same distance as the creature seen by John MacLean. A snapshot below shows one of them breaching the water.

The similar distance is where the similarities end as the movement of the otters popping in and out of the water rapidly is nothing like John MacLean's 20 footer. Of course, they were recognised as otters and that is no surprise. They look rather small and that is because they are rather small. Yet somehow if they are transported ten miles down to the loch, they magically become monsters. Watch the video and tell me how these can be re-imagined as twenty foot monsters?

So, sceptics, please stop insulting the intelligence of numerous eyewitnesses with your condescending views about their observational skills. Why don't you just say what you want to say and call some of them liars instead of nonsense about otters, seals or deer? We can concur with you if such observations were made at a mile away or for two seconds or in fog or heavy rain. But then again, no one is going to see an otter at a mile away. Sixty feet? That is a different matter.

The author can be contacted at

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Books on Nessie and Sea Serpents


It has been a while since a Nessie book has been published. The last two were in 2019 and nothing in 2020, which was a bit of a surprise considering the extra time people had on their time during various coronavirus lockdowns. But Ken Gerhard was at work in 2020 researching his own Essential Guide to the Loch Ness Monster with a foreword by Steve Feltham. The promotional text on read thus:

For centuries, the Scottish Highlanders have told of great water beasts said to inhabit particular lochs and burns. The most famous of these is, of course, the Loch Ness Monster, or ‘Nessie,’ said to be twenty to forty feet long – far larger than any freshwater animal known to exist in the murky, fathomless lake. In this essential primer, world famous cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard presents the most accurate and indispensable information that’s been gathered with regard to the Loch Ness Monster – the best evidence supporting its existence, consensus expert opinions up to this point, the most compelling encounters, and really everything you need to know about the subject in order to become Nessie knowledgeable.

In addition, Gerhard discusses other celebrated aquatic cryptids, including Champ, Ogopogo, and so-called sea serpents. The reader will get answers to questions such as: Could they really exist? What do they look like? How many are there? Are they dangerous? Where are the remains? Finally, Ken makes an argument that these elusive creatures may be descended from a line of ancient whales, believed to have gone extinct millions of years ago. For centuries, the Scottish Highlanders have told of great water beasts said to inhabit particular lochs and burns. The most famous of these is, of course, the Loch Ness Monster, or ‘Nessie,’ said to be twenty to forty feet long – far larger than any freshwater animal known to exist in the murky, fathomless lake.

In this essential primer, world famous cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard presents the most accurate and indispensable information that’s been gathered with regard to the Loch Ness Monster – the best evidence supporting its existence, consensus expert opinions up to this point, the most compelling encounters, and really everything you need to know about the subject in order to become Nessie knowledgeable. In addition, Gerhard discusses other celebrated aquatic cryptids, including Champ, Ogopogo, and so-called sea serpents. The reader will get answers to questions such as: Could they really exist? What do they look like? How many are there? Are they dangerous? Where are the remains?

Finally, Ken makes an argument that these elusive creatures may be descended from a line of ancient whales, believed to have gone extinct millions of years ago. For centuries, the Scottish Highlanders have told of great water beasts said to inhabit particular lochs and burns. The most famous of these is, of course, the Loch Ness Monster, or ‘Nessie,’ said to be twenty to forty feet long – far larger than any freshwater animal known to exist in the murky, fathomless lake. In this essential primer, world famous cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard presents the most accurate and indispensable information that’s been gathered with regard to the Loch Ness Monster – the best evidence supporting its existence, consensus expert opinions up to this point, the most compelling encounters, and really everything you need to know about the subject in order to become Nessie knowledgeable.

In addition, Gerhard discusses other celebrated aquatic cryptids, including Champ, Ogopogo, and so-called sea serpents. The reader will get answers to questions such as: Could they really exist? What do they look like? How many are there? Are they dangerous? Where are the remains? Finally, Ken makes an argument that these elusive creatures may be descended from a line of ancient whales, believed to have gone extinct millions of years ago.

Now Ken is better known for his other cryptozoological adventures in North America and beyond, but he has turned his investigative eye to Scotland as well as some other lake cryptids. His theory that the monster may be a descendant of some ancient whales reminds me of Roy Mackal's zeuglodons, which he favoured at some point, so it does have some pedigree behind it. I am not inclined to that idea myself, but I will hear him out when I get a copy of the book. 

Looking at the preview on Amazon, the book actually extensively covers the whole range of sea and lake cryptids and so is not purely a book on the Loch Ness Monster, I would say just under 30% is devoted to my favourite cryptid. Ken did communicate with me by email asking questions which I was happy to answer and I know he is a believer in the beast, so he is off to a good start.

In the meantime, I note his arty cover bears a resemblance to this one from the 1970s. Both nice pieces of Nessie artwork and Ken's book is also on

A second book which has come to my attention is "Sun, Sand and Sea Serpents" by David Goudsward which focuses on the seas around Florida and the Caribbean. I hope to dip into that book at various points and its back cover text reads from

Ever since Columbus spotted mermaids, sea monsters, and mystery lizards in the New World, sightings of a diverse array of marine cryptids have continued unabated in the waters of Florida, the Southeastern coast, and the Caribbean. Dinosaurs, mermaids, and sea serpents in a range of colors and lengths, along with monster sharks, mystery seals, and giant penguins, all seem to have made the tourist-friendly waters of the region their home. In Florida, it became a running joke that the tourist season officially started when the first sea serpent report appeared in the newspapers.

What's behind all the reports? Hoaxes? Some certainly are. Yellow journalism? Yes, sometimes. Misidentifications? It's pretty common. A way to drum up business?  Shocking, but true. But in that mix, there are probably some unidentified animals as well. David Goudsward digs up the original sources and interviews to sort fact from fiction, and tells some fascinating stories along the way. 

Certain cases I will be reading up on are the famous Pensacola case of 1962 which alleged some fatalities. This case grabbed my attention as a youth back in the 1970s when I read it in Dinsdale's "The Leviathans", if I recall correctly. The case of the three toed monster also has my attention as I believe the Loch Ness Monster is three toed, although I suspect our American three toes has some deception involved.

So, plenty of reading ahead of me in the months ahead.

The author can be contacted at

Sunday, 14 February 2021

The Long Necks of 22nd September 1933


Illustrated London News 13th January 1934

Was Friday the 22nd of September 1933 an auspicious day for Monster Lore when something happened for the first time? According to Loch Ness expert, Adrian Shine, this was when the classic long neck made its first appearance in the loch waters (see link). Sure, some couple from London had previously reported a grotesque sight with a writhing neck on land, but in the monster's prime domain, it had finally raised its imposing long neck and small head.

And not only that, witnesses were treated to not one but three reports of long necks that day. Or was it one long neck? The story begins at about 9:30 in the morning. Water Bailiff, Alex Campbell looked out on the loch from near his cottage to behold a sight he later described as prehistoric. 

Suddenly my attention was drawn to a strange object that seemed to shoot out of the calm waters almost opposite the Abbey boathouse ... the swan like neck reached six feet or so above the water at its highest point, and the body, a darkish grey glistening with moisture was at least 30 ft. long. I gauged this carefully in my mind's eye by placing two ordinary rowing boats of 15 ft. overall length end to end, and I don't think I was far wrong, because I have had lots of experience of that sort of thing, because I have lived on the shores of the loch all my life - apart from the last war years.

Still watching and wondering if I would have time to run for my camera, I heard the noise of the engines of two herring drifters (they call them trawlers in England) which were proceeding down the lower basin of the Caledonian Canal, which enters the loch almost alongside the Abbey boathouse. The animal certainly must have heard, or sensed, the approach of these vessels too, for I saw it turn its head in an apprehensive way, this way and that, and, apparently being timid, it then sank rapidly out of sight, lowering the neck in doing so, and leaving a considerable disturbance on the mirror-like surface of the loch. The animal would have been some 400 yards from where I stood, possibly less, and I had a very clear view of it which lasted several minutes.

The sketch above of what Campbell saw was drawn for reporters who came up some weeks later. But the monster was not finished for the day as it submerged and swam up the loch in close tandem with the two trawlers, apparently not so frightened by them as it kept to its natural element deep below. By 11 o'clock in the morning, one and a half hours later, it stopped and surfaced for whatever reason these dark denizens feel the compulsion to stop. This was just north of the village of Invermoriston almost in a line with the Halfway House, a tea room built by the Altsigh river to take advantage of the increased traffic on the now widened and improved Inverness road. That's about seven and a half miles from Fort Augustus as the monster put in a leisurely four and a half knots (about 5 mph).

Time for another display as more than half a dozen witnesses stopped their activities to gaze from the balcony upon this awesome sight as the sun continued to shine brightly upon a calm loch. The Inverness Courier reported the events four days later as follows:

Miss Fraser, the proprietrix of the tea room, the "Halfway House," which occupies an excellent position overlooking the loch. near Altsigh. told a Courier representative that on Friday, about noon, she and upwards of half-a-dozen people, including two ladies from the Parsonage, Glen Urquhart, who were having tea at the time, watched the creature disport itself for almost fifteen minutes. The loch being dead calm and the sun shining strongly, they watched the "monster" raise its head, then its back (which seemed to consist of two very pronounced "humps") above the surface of the water, and calmly proceeded to amuse itself by swimming about the loch.

Two steam drifters, which were passing, did not appear to cause the creature any concern, and from this it seems possible that the "monster" is now becoming quite reconciled to their presence, for up to within the past few weeks its always seemed to take fright and disappear on the slightest provocation. 

Other eyewitnesses were Mr and Mrs Simpson, who live at Altsigh, and their daughters and Mr George Macqueen, an A.A. scout, who patrols the Fort Augustus-Invermoriston road, and who saw the creature opposite Port Clair. Mr Macqueen said that when he saw the "monster" it was just like an upturned rowing-boat but it was travelling at a great speed.

It is interesting to note that on almost every occasion on which the "monster" been seen the weather conditions were the same as on Friday - calm and bright. It would be interesting to learn whether the crews of the drifters which were proceeding to Inverness noticed the "monster" on Friday, as the Altsigh witnesses think that they could not possibly failed to have seen it.

Miss Fraser's Sketch

Miss Howden's Sketch

Mrs Fraser's Sketch

To these we can add the following sketch done for The Scotsman newspaper dated 15th November 1933 where one of the Halfway House ladies describes a frill or mane attached to the neck.

Lt. Cmdr. Rupert T. Gould tells us in his 1934 work on the monster that the creature was about 1000 yards from the witnesses, or about halfway across the loch and somewhat to their right with the sun behind the creature. Eyewitness sketches are shown above and his interview with some of them adds more detail and he refers, as usual, to the monster as "X":

[X] remained in view - without much change of position, but rising and sinking slightly from time to time - for some ten minutes. The head and neck rose almost vertically out of the water. Miss Fraser concentrated her attention upon these; and their general appearance, by her account, was that of "a mythical creature." The head was slightly "dished" - "like a terrier's," she put it - in front; and at the junction of the head and neck, when facing her, she noticed a kind of frill, which she described as like "a pair of kippered herrings."

She also noticed what appeared to be a large glittering circular eye in the head, in the position in which one would expect an eye to be situated. X moved its head from side to side, and the "eye " appeared to move with the head. [I am of opinion that this "eye" was produced by irradiation, or reflection - see above, as to the sun's position.] The head and neck rose and sank periodically; moving more or less vertically in doing so.

Miss Fraser only remarked the head and neck; but Miss Howden also noticed two humps, and " something indefinite" which might be a "tail." The colour of head, neck and humps was dark; but in the bright sunlight it might have been anything from dark-brown to dark-grey. Mrs. G. Fraser also saw the head and neck, two humps and an indefinite tail. She first noticed a splashing in the water, at one end of what appeared to be a "long stretch of glittering silver," showing up against the (comparatively) dark surface of the water.

Then the head and neck rose slowly out of the water at the opposite end, remained in view for a minute or so, and then sank. They reappeared, and slowly rose higher, than before, while two humps appeared close behind them. The splashing from the tail end had ceased by this time, but the " silver streak " was still visible. The head turned slowly from side to side. X did not appear to be discomposed by a vessel passing on the far side of the Loch, but ultimately headed towards Invermoriston, moving quite slowly. 

It finally sank and did not reappear, having been almost continuously in view for over a quarter of an hour. Mrs. Hobbes (and a friend, Miss Mullock) saw what she described as "two shining eyes, separated by a dark perpendicular line." She took it, at first, for a steamboat with its lights showing. They left the balcony, and drove in their car to a point from which they hoped to get a closer view; but by that time X had finally submerged.

Mrs. Fraser told Gould that she noticed one of our trawlers near the monster but Gould failed to track down the vessel. The Monster pressed on northwards, leaving a clutch of bemused people in its wake. Three hours later, at about 2 pm, it was the turn  of Mr. D. W. Morrison and others to be dazzled. These people were at the Balnafoich residence perched high on a hill near Dores. The house was about 600 yards from the shore and 250 feet above the loch. The animal was a similar distance from their shore as the sun continued to shine and it was at the end of its hike, turning back the way it came. Gould continues again, quoting Morrison's letter to him:

It was heading towards Fort Augustus, and passed in front of the observers, from right to left, at a speed of some 15 miles per hour (13 knots). At its nearest approach, it was roughly 950 yards away; and it submerged when approximately 2,200 yards 241° from Balnafoich, having been in sight for some four minutes.

When it sank, a trawler was in sight about a mile away, steaming towards Inverness along the far side of the Loch. X looked like " a huge caterpillar," and appeared to move "with an up-and-down motion, and not the lateral motion you would expect in a giant eel. ... The portion of the body above water was in a series of humps, with water spaces in between. I should say that there were about seven humps, some possibly two feet above the water-line, and with Nos. 3, 4 and 5 more prominent than the others as if indicating the larger girth of the body amidships

I regret that I am unable to say how these portions of body compare in proportion with the water spaces, and there is no point in my guessing. My drawing, however, seems to represent it fairly, as I saw it. The head I should describe as 'snake-like,' similar to an adder and tapering. It would, however, be approximately the same bore as the neck, which appeared to be at right angles with the water when raised. . . . The head was not apparent unless raised. ... My camera had been left in my car at the top of the drive - about 300 yards away. ... I debated fetching it, but was unwilling to give up my view of the creature, which might in the meantime have disappeared, and again I knew that at that distance it would have appeared only as a speck, if that." 

Altsigh to a point parallel to Balnafoich is 12.5 miles, so our creature was again averaging about four knots (4.5 mph). It is at least consistent in this one thing, though it put in a final spurt of 16 mph according to Mr. Morrison. In some ways, this day was the real debut of the Loch Ness Monster - in terms of its iconic pose, thrice seen for emphasis. Within a short time, the national press was picking up the story and sending their journalists north. The legend was beginning to solidify into a certain form.


The location of each sighting is denoted on the map below from Alex Campbell's at the bottom to D. W. Morrison's at the top with their times in parentheses. The question you may be asking is whether this was indeed the adventures of one large thirty foot creature? 

The main objection leveled against this view would be that the sketches of the eyewitnesses look different enough to suggest different creatures. However, when one considers that the four different sketches to the Halfway House incident refer to the same creature, then this argument is not compelling. If eyewitnesses to one event cannot produce the exact same sketch, then why should others to potentially the same creature at other locations and times?

I would further suggest that if the witnesses were asked to sketch the boats which were in the vicinity of their sightings, these would be recognisable as boats, but they too would have degrees of variation to them. Such is the imperfection of eyewitness testimony; but let us not allow the sceptics to own this subject. Yes, eyewitnesses are imperfect recording machines, but not to the extent scepticism wishes to impose upon them. At 400, 1000 and 1250 yards respectively, there is certainly increasing scope for some error. But we must also remember that the presence of the trawlers in all three events provided useful frames of references for our eyewitnesses to make a determination of the large size of the creature.

But what about the sketch by Mr. Morrison which shows six humps? It is perfectly acceptable for us to go from Campbell's single hump to Howden's two humps, but reconfiguring from two to seven seems a stretch. I thought about this and noted that Morrison's sighting was the furthest at over 1200 yards. Was it possible he had misinterpreted some of the water turbulence behind the monster as low lying humps? I think that is a possibility, though what was behind the long neck could also have been a combination of one or two humps with waves.

Then we come to the matter of Alex Campbell. Poor old Alex Campbell, he does get some flak from the critics. When Adrian Shine stated that this was the first long neck in water event, he was referring to the women at the Halfway House as the first witnesses to the long neck of Nessie in her natural habitat, he would have discounted Campbell's account as cormorant misidentification, because that is what Campbell himself admitted to at one point before recanting. Mind you, Adrian would be classing every other sighting that day as misidentification.

Constance Whyte's 1957 recounting of Campbell's sighting places it on our date of 22nd September. The fact that he mentions two trawlers and the Inverness Courier account from the Halfway House also mentions two trawlers tends to corroborate this date. So Alex Campbell appears to be the first person to see a long neck in water, perhaps. I have written a previous article on Alex Campbell's sighting and why it should not be dismissed at this link


Having noted Adrian's statement that the women at the Halfway House were the first witnesses to a long neck in the loch and my counter that Alex Campbell claims the prize, it turns out we are both wrong. As I came to the end of this article, I double checked some old paper printouts I had made from the microfilm rolls of the Inverness Courier held by the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. A clipping was discovered from the 2nd September, which relates how Mrs Barbara Macdonell and Mrs. A. Sutherland at Port Clair watched a 30 foot creature from less than one hundred yards away with a huge flat head and "wriggly" neck plus a single humped back.

So the prize goes to to these two ladies, but it only takes a little gloss off that special day about three weeks later when the Loch Ness Monster went on a tour of the loch before a dozen or more gaping humans. The earlier sighting was just a dress rehearsal, the big show came on the 22nd September.

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