Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Paranatural Documentary on Lake Monsters



The National Geographic channel televised their next episode of "Paranatural" on the 28th November and lake cryptids were the subject. Going by the internal evidence of the programme, it must have been made about 2010-2011. I review that documentary here.

Three of the most famous lake cryptids were covered in the hour long programme, the Cadborosaurus of the western Canadian coast, the monster of Lake Champlain, Vermont, USA and the Loch Ness Monster of Scotland. Or to use their nicknames, Caddy, Champ and Nessie.

LOCH NESS

The programme interchanged between the three waters as experts were consulted, eyewitnesses interviewed and searches undertaken. In the case of Loch Ness, pro-Nessie researcher, Mikko Takala was pitted against sceptic, Adrian Shine. I say "pitted", but I doubt these two men would be likely to confront each other in a debate, given that there seems to be some friction between them.





Mikko Takala has appeared on one or two Loch Ness documentaries before and came across as a seasoned researcher, but he is a bit hard to evaluate. Mikko maintains the website "Nessie on the Net" and describes himself as:

Probably the world’s leading Nessie the Loch Ness Monster researcher and cryptozoology expert ...

But the context of the page and the Carlsberg "probably" makes it clear he is not taking himself seriously. In fact, the whole website is a satire on the art of monster hunting, be it pro- or anti-Monster. I don't see much in the way of serious research which makes me wonder what direction he is coming from.

As you can see from the picture above, his is not averse to promoting his website and, indeed, when he was filmed for the documentary, he had another promotional shirt on. However, the editors confounded him by blurring out the text! Not that this was a particular wrist slap for Mikko, I have seen editors blur out multitudes of clothing brand names in other documentaries.

His assessment of other Loch Ness researchers suggests he has an issue with Adrian Shine. Indeed, as a computer programmer, he was involved in the setup of the Loch Ness 2000 exhibition at Adrian's Loch Ness Centre. That relationship did not seem to end well and he now actively promotes the other exhibition down the road and regularly takes sideswipes at Adrian. I can see how it was best to keep them apart for this documentary.

Having just seen Adrian on the previously reviewed "Missing Evidence", I suspected I could predict everything he was going to say. But, it has to be said, the target audience are those who are not well acquainted with the mystery. Adrian must be near his mid-60s by now and I wonder who is going to replace him in future documentaries once he retires from the Loch Ness scene?

But back to monsters and the photograph taken by Richard Preston in 2010 was presented as evidence for the Loch Ness Monster. I covered this photograph at the time and was not convinced this was a Nessie, mainly because Nessies are not white and the reflection theory had merit.

Naturally, Adrian went for the window reflection theory, but Mikko thought it was a genuine picture of the Loch Ness Monster. I would like to know what makes Mikko think that.

Adrian told the viewers that the classic pictures had nothing to do with the Loch Ness Monster. This blog respectfully disagrees with that opinion. The Surgeon's Photo was naturally brought up as an example of that and once the psychological theories of expectation and desire were wheeled in, that was meant to seal the deal as far as Nessie was concerned.

Mind you, Adrian allowed some wiggle room for large creatures in Loch Ness and said he would be delighted to be proven wrong. I would be delighted to prove him wrong, but that day has not arrived yet!

LAKE CHAMPLAIN

But this was a global program and it was off to Lake Champlain where we heard the testimony of Bill Billado and his brother-in-law who claimed to have seen a torso the width of a pony with a dark ridge and eel-like skin just swimming past their boat under the surface.

At Lake Champlain, we were told of 300 eyewitnesses reports, which compares to the 1500 or so we know of for Loch Ness. Dr. Ellen Marsden told us that population was an issue as a minimum of 50 was required for sustainability, though she preferred 500 to 5,000 for a more stable population.

Five thousand plesiosaur-like animals packed into Lake Champlain? Did she think through that one properly? Anyway, the point she was making was that a large number of creatures is not easily hidden. Now, Lake Champlain is nearly 20 times the surface area of Loch Ness, but I suppose hiding five thousand plesiosaurs under that is non-trivial. That's about 10 creatures per square mile after all.

As an aside, Lake Champlain expert, Scott Mardis, recently posted that sturgeons have been land locked in the lake for 10,000 years with no adverse effects of inbreeding. As a comparison, there is about 2,000 sturgeons in Lake Champlain. So, what does that suggest the population of alpha predators would be? A tenth, quarter, twentieth? Answers on a postcard, please.

Now the thing that was slightly annoying was that sophisticated sonar and ROV equipment was deployed in the hunt off Vancouver Island and Lake Champlain. What was used at Loch Ness? Mikko Takala setting up his webcam. It seems the budget ran out before they arrived in Scotland.

This hi-tech search for Champ was conducted by Chris Bocast, a sceptical expert in acoustics. Barney Bristow operated the side sonar and ROV while microphones were employed in the search for signs of infrasonic echolocation. The frequency of 96khz was mentioned but that doesn't sound infrasonic to me? Some interesting clicks and rapping sounds were recorded, but were concluded to be man-made. The ROV went down to 23 feet, which did not seem to be a very great depth to me.


BACK WEST

Then we spanned the continent to go to Vancouver Island as Robert Iverson recounted his story from the late 1990s about the huge series of three humps which were bigger than the seals and whales he was accustomed to seeing in those waters.

Then there was the Kelly Nash video from 2009 watched by Paul Le Blond and Jason Walton. Three years on, we still await the opportunity to view the whole of this video, a video described as one of the best ever. Paul Le Blond is convinced of that, having seen the whole film, but we can only take his word for it!

Chris Barnes,  an oceanographer of the Western Canadian shores, told us these waters shelf off to a depth of 2500m. Plenty of room for Caddy to hide, but the actual ROV search was conducted in the Saanich Inlet at a depth of 16 metres (marked below). Again, not very deep, I thought, but it was better than nothing. I assumed some health and safety issues were involved.




WRAPPING IT UP

Finishing at Loch Ness, we looked back to Pictish symbol stones with their enigmatic "elephant" and a photo allegedly taken by Mikko Takala in 2005 which he claimed "could be a plesiosaur". A look at the picture is difficult to assess as there is no background information and Mikko does not even mention it in the list of 2005 sightings his site maintains!

All in all, it was an interesting enough program which offered a chance to contrast and compare the three creatures that roam very different parts of the world. The Loch Ness evidence presented would not have been my first choice, but then again, I doubt it would have made much difference to the target audience.








100 comments:

  1. Bizarrely enough, I was in South Sudan last week and this programme appeared on TV! Surreal seeing my house in the wide angle shots of Dores while sat several thousand miles away.

    Thought it was an ok programme, but suffered hugely from trying to cover too much in a short space of time, meaning it really didn't cover anything.

    I thought the female scientist had indeed thought through her 500-5000 comment. It was a pure science judgement from someone with clearly a vast knowledge of Lake C, and her way of saying there are no plesiosaurs in there.

    As for Mikko, can't say I've ever met him. I was trying to judge where his cottage was from the shots but it didn't seem clear. It would've been nice if the programme had allowed him to put some more meat on the bones of his theories, but again too much to cover in too little time.

    As for the various personality clashes around these LNM exhibitions - it's like a soap opera over there.

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    1. Apparently he lives in Grotaig, but I think the webcam is on the roof of Quincy cottage on Strone hill above Urquhart Castle.

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    2. BTW, South Sudan? Not the safest place on earth just now?

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    3. South Sudan =very safe.
      All the Sudanese are in London.

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  2. Also - that 2005 image is awful. Looks like wood debris.

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  3. Probably the worlds leading Nessie expert was in such shock and awe that he only managed one blurry black and white snap before fainting. Or he didn't want anyone to recognise his radio controlled Nessie toy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0BSVCXK_7c

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  4. For those of you who missed the show its here on YouTube:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcEou3NQqkE

    I agree with you GB, Takala's website leaves a lot to b e desired, for the serious LNM aficionado. I find it tabloidish, commercial and dare I say “simple”, totally lacking any substance, definitely not a site for the discerning Nessie enthusiast or serious researcher. It's target audience seems to be the average, casual person not versed in the history, folklore or current state of affairs of the mystery.
    Certainly not on par with your website, or even Dick Raynor's site , even though his is on the skeptical side of this debate.

    And, what does “Nessie's Official Original Loch Ness Website” mean? The question is rhetorical. Takala's assertion that the image captured by his camera is a plesiosaur is ridiculous on it's face, it could be anything including a floating tree branch (which it probably is). Sorry Mr. Takala, if you see this post, I call it as I see it.

    Richard Preston's pic can also not be taken seriously, an albino Nessie!, come on give me a break. Adrian Shine's “wiggle room” allowance is what I always find curious. Time and time again in most documentaries, where they ask for his expert opinion, I've heard him say, quote: “there's something strange going on in the loch” Which leads me to the conclusion that he is not totally convinced that there is not some unknown creature in the Loch.

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    1. Thanks for the link, John. I don't know, perhaps Adrian has heard stories from people whose judgement he trusts and are not so explicable?

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    2. I thought the Preston image was interesting.

      The 'albino' comment - i think the suggestion is it's a dark hump with light reflecting off it.

      Once again though, a moving image or at least a second or third comparison shot would've told us so much more. Given it was taken with a smart phone, either or both should've been well achievable.

      Single shots are just so open to ambiguity.

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    3. Off the top of my head, I think three shots were taken.

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    4. To be fair, i think he is pretty convinced there is no LNM. However, he does have an exhibition centre to run, so has a vested interest in not completely killing off the notion.

      I like Adrian Shine - i always think he comes across pretty well.

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    5. Yep, i think you're right come to think of it.

      They do all appear to show pretty much the exact same image though, do they not?

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    6. Well, I think that suggestion would be wrong Trevor. If I remember basic physics, dark bodies absorb light rather than reflect it. Even if it was slick like an eels or a seal you would get a glint effect not a total saturation of reflected light.

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    7. When Adrian Shine says something is going on at Loch Ness worthy of investigation I think he means that there is a sociological-psychological phenomenon at play which is interesting and worthy of study. After all, he has said that the surface of the loch behaves like a mirror and reflects back who we are. He clearly finds it all very interesting for the same reasons I do too.

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    8. Not at all Geordie,what the good Mr Shine means is that there's a 6 ton animal or more swimming in the loch.THAT'S what interests us not the psychological metaphysical aspect of the frumpy widow who lives near the loch.what concerns us is just What this creature is,and does it eat people?

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    9. At least you didn't say he's getting paid to be a sceptic this time, anon. Things are improving! :-)

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    10. That's to yet be determined,if at all.;)

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  5. I think shine thinks there is a bit more going on than the surface behaving oddly! Actually in one interview he states people are seeing things and he thinks it is a 9ft fish.

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    1. He has said it's conceivable that sturgeons could get into the loch.

      What he clearly does not think is that the loch contains a colony of a so far undiscovered species with long neck, bulky body and flippers. In short, Adrian Shine does not believe in the Loch Ness Monster.

      Delete
    2. Jake and Geordie checkout this link, for one websites take on Adrian Shine's view on the “big fish” hypothesis, if you haven't already done so:

      http://www.njan.org/camp2.php


      I tried downloading the PDF files but I get a 404 Not Found. It worked the last time I tried a few months back. You might have better luck or the server is temporarily down. Anyway, must be one big fish with a long neck and able to walk on land!

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  6. No what he said was he believes there is a 3 meter fish in loch ness. His words on one of the documentries

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    1. I've never seen him say that on any documentary and would need to see it to believe he said it. Unless it was an old documentary of course. We all know he was much less sceptical in the past.

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    2. Well he did say it !

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  7. I started watching that documentary on YouTube and just got bored. Stopped about halfway through. Something new needs to happen with the Loch Ness story or I think only a few remaining diehards will have any further interest in it. Some major new footage to stir up interest in the manner the surgeon's photo and the Dinsdale film did. We can't continue to survive on the nutrition-free scraps which are eyewitness reports. We need something substantial and soon, even to retain interest as sceptics.

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    1. Yet here you are, you die hard skeptic. Try some sturgeon fillets!

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  8. Yes it is on one of the loch ness monster programmes. Adrian says he thinks it is a 3 meter fish.

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  9. Maybe you can go off and partake of a Bigfoot steak?

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    1. GB it would seem you're not alone in thinking I should do that. Two days ago someone emailed me a link to Scott Carpenter's Bigfoot youtube channel. I now think you Nessie believers are relatively clear thinking in comparison! Carpenter takes blurry videos in forests and sees primate faces in the random shapes made by leaves and branches. It's quite disturbing to look at his "analysis" - the poor man sees Bigfoot wherever he looks.

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    2. Geordie, try BINNALL of America interview of Gian Quasar of "Recasting Bigfoot"..then the other interview of a certain Roland Watson...

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  10. A monster fish though ....9-10 ft long !!!

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  11. Not seen Shine say such a thing in the last few years of documentaries. We all know he thinks sturgeons could account for some sightings. That seems a reasonable theory to me. If you listen to the bits of what Shine says that you don't like (as believers in a monster), you'll note that his main message is that when people see anything they don't understand on Loch Ness, the object becomes "their Nessie". Shine clearly recognises that the reputation of the loch causes people to mistake mundane objects for monsters.

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  12. But he believes in 10 ft fish ? Strange one that!

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  13. The atlantic sturgeon can grow up to twenty feet long. So make your mind up sceptical ones, can Loch Ness hold twenty foot creatures or not ?

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    1. Anonymous, you make a point, but I suspect it is the very opposite to the one you intended to make.

      The contention from the sceptics is not that Loch Ness supports an ongoing colony of large sturgeon. The belief is that it is possible that one may occasionally make it up the river into the loch from the sea, and be spotted on those very rare occasions.

      However, one has to ask why sturgeon are not spotted and filmed? The answer would appear to be that they have not colonised the loch. This further reinforces the scientific view that the loch does not have enough mass in the food chain to support a colony of such animals. As a sceptic I thank you for your post!

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    2. And I thank you for another opportunity to show up your poor logic!

      Ever considered that no sturgeon has ever made it into Loch Ness?


      And don't you need two sturgeon to establish a colony?

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  14. Yes anon thats right old bean !!! I always knew they wud come round to our way of thinking!!welcome aboard ladz. :)

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    1. Yes and we all believe in a special kind of sturgeon with a long neck, flippers, and the ability to clamber up onto land, cross the road, grab a sheep and fourpack of Tennents, and then crash back into the loch successfully avoiding any cameras along the way. Never underestimate the power of mother nature! !

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    2. Im sure it would be a bigger pack than a four pack of tennents!!

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  15. As they don't feed in fresh water, and the loch is quite large, it is possible.

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  16. Having corresponded with Shine over the years and having read various papers he (co)authored, my understanding of his hypothesis is that Atlantic sturgeon may have entered Loch Ness from time to time where it may have been observed on rare occasions. He does not believe there are sturgeons permanently living in the lake.

    Roland, there are reports of the ‘monster’ that seem to be quite accurate observations of sturgeon. However, sturgeon is just one of very many causes of the belief in the Loch Ness monster. Various phenomena have been mistaken for monsters in the last 84 years (as the myth was first ‘documented’ in 1930, not 1933).

    A T Lovchanski

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    1. Strange how eyewitnesses are constantly portrayed as incompetent and can't properly describe objects in the water, and yet when the sturgeon theory requires support, suddenly we have "sturgeon-like" reports which are presented to us as accurate accounts.

      Gotta laugh at the double standard of sceptics!

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    2. It is not a matter of ‘double standards’ but rather of inference via modus ponens (in propositional logic).

      All seal-like reports are most likely of seals. So, when an eyewitness reports a seal-like monster, they most probably saw a seal. But seals are known to exist, hence the validity of such inference.

      If one is to ignore this line of logical thought, then one would have to accept that there are many different types of unknown species living in Loch Ness: otter-like monsters; giant bird-like monsters; monsters that resemble seals; crocodile/sturgeon monsters; aquatic deer-like monsters; monsters with bulldog-like faces; monsters with cat-like heads, and so on.

      Clearly, modus ponens is to be preferred in a combination with the Occam’s razor.

      A T Lovchanski

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    3. This process is fragile at best.

      You assume a seal when it is not known whether a seal actually was in Loch Ness at the time. They are known to exist, but not persistently in Loch Ness. You did not make that clear. Just because something looks like something else, it does not follow it is that object.

      The same with sturgeons, no one has ever reported one in Loch Ness, so why make the loose deduction that it is one?

      Going back to my main point, your problem is the wide latitude you give yourselves to interpreting eyewitness accounts. It is so loose, it allows all manner of pat and simplistic explanations.

      The selection process is also biased, if a witness reports a white underside, an otter is deduced, despite the fact others descriptions may dictate against that.

      Your logic may be defensible, but the data selection process that feeds into it most certainly is not.

      I acknowledge the diversity of descriptions in reports (though you make it sound worse than it is), some of these will be down to misinterpretation of known objects and error in reporting. But again, your attitude to interpretation is so cavalier as to render everything subjective.

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    4. RW wrote:
      ‘The same with sturgeons, no one has ever reported one in Loch Ness, so why make the loose deduction that it is one?’

      Sturgeon-like reports are either of sturgeon (or possibly, of a large pike), or one of the following alternatives:
      a) crocodile
      b) tree
      c) unknown crocodile-like animal (but then you have a problem with long-neck reports, etc.)
      d) fabrication (either intentional or unintentional, induced, say, by hallucination)

      Occam’s Razor favours sturgeon (or pike). Which one do you favour?

      RW wrote:
      ‘Going back to my main point, your problem is the wide latitude you give yourselves to interpreting eyewitness accounts. It is so loose, it allows all manner of pat and simplistic explanations.’

      The above example demonstrates the power of inference tool I use.

      A T Lovchanski

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    5. And plesiosaur-like reports are either of ... ?

      Judging you by your own treatment of witnesses, I would add "inconclusive due to witness unreliability".

      For reasons of deductive convenience, you invest selected witnesses with the power of accurate observation and recall ... just to suit your case.

      After that, it is back to witnesses you dismiss as people who cannot tell a hump from a wake, beaked birds from muzzled animals, feathered/furry creatures from scaled/smooth skin, deer horns from blobby protuberances, etc.

      Inconsistent.

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    6. Plesiosaur-like reports are from a bygone era when that was the popular and exciting theory. Name any plesiosaur-like reports since 2000.

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    7. That was a head and neck report. A plesiosaur type report needs to include a big body too.

      Delete
  17. Not enough food in a massive loch to feed one sturgeon ? I have heard it all now.

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    1. Not enough food in the loch to feed a sturgeon which, like returning salmon, don't feed in freshwater. No wonder monster believers are greeted with a tap of the forehead when they venture outdoors!

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    2. Hi Anonymous. Where have you seen that written? I've had a good look around and can't see anyone saying that anywhere. I personally said that the loch can't support a COLONY of sturgeon. Perhaps you saw on another website someone saying that it can't support a single sturgeon?

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    3. Cheeky boy!

      Would a Glasgow Kiss count as a tap on the forehead?

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    4. Well there you go then. If that is the case, then the whole question of loch ness food is irrelevant here.

      As anyone can see, no one here suggested there wasn't enough food for only one sturgeon anyway, did they?

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  18. If a large sturgeon that size came up the river into the loch then back again then surely it would be seen.

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    1. Which is the more likely scenario: a sturgeon moving up the river during darkness, or a plesiosaur shaped monster grabbing deer and sheep from the edges of the loch at night?

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    2. I am not sure what you are getting at here. Let's give you (for the sake of argument) odds of 500,000 to one against plesiosaur-like animals grabbing sheep at night and 10,000 to one against a sturgeon getting into Loch Ness.

      Would you put your life savings on both outcomes?

      BTW, the existence of the monster does not depend on the proposition of sheep grabbing, as you seem to imply.

      Delete
  19. Depends. If it negotiated the river during the hours of darkness I could well imagine it doing so unseen.

    During daylight - highly probable it would be seen.

    Was there not a report way back of a 'crocodile like' creature being seen in the river? I seem to recall one.

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    1. Chasing Leviathan17 December 2014 at 13:04

      Hi, trevoethecat.

      The report you're referring to was from a Miss K. MacDonald and allegedly occurred in 1932. She claimed to see a 'crocodile-like' creature making its way up the river when it was in spate. The creature was described as having a short neck, a long snout and some reports apparently said tusks.

      Interestingly, Miss MacDonald apparently claimed a sighting of the Monster in later years and allegedly stated that what she saw the second time bore no resemblance to her 1932 sighting!

      Delete
  20. Ah at night .i knew that one would come out ha

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    1. It's a perfectly reasonable proposition i'd say.

      As LNM theories go, it holds far more water than most. Of course a sturgeon could enter the loch unseen during darkness. At the moment, darkness in Inverness is from 4pm till 8am. That's a fairly sizeable time window.

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  21. Neither if u ask me lol

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  22. Yes at the moment. But most sightings are in the summer and only a short time of darkness in the summer so no, highly unlikely.

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    1. But far, far less unlikely than... well, I'm sure I don't need to tell you by now.

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    2. I don't think it is highly unlikely, certainly not relative to other LNM theories.

      The River Ness is not that heavily populated. There's a colony of otters living slap in the centre of it that the vast majority of the town haven't seen - and those are fairly distinctive surface moving animals.

      There are seals in there fairly regularly - again, most people in town won't have seen them.

      At times it's fairly shallow, and at times the water level rises considerably.

      I think it's well within the parameters of feasibility that a large fish could migrate to and from the loch and not be seen. Admittedly, the more regular this migration is, the more likely it is that it would be seen - but we are surely talking about very occasional migration here, and let's not forget there have been recorded large fish / sturgeon-like sightings in the river.

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  23. So you know about these otters and seals but nobody else around there does ? And a large fish large enough for people to mistake for a monster? Again, i dont think so.

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  24. The RSPCA and the tourist information board did a survey in the town, think it was the year before last, based mainly on the proposed construction of the new flood defences which were originally intended to reach further down the river towards Ness Islands. Something like 80% had no idea otters and seals were in the river. A further portion above that knew of them but had never seen them.

    My point is, there's wildlife in that river that passes unnoticed, and regularly. And otters and seals have been mistaken for monsters in the loch too, so why not a fish?

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  25. Oh come on. A 10 foot sturgeon travelling 7 miles up a river and back again without been seen ? Ridiculous

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    1. Easily possible. Sturgeon are fish so spend most of the time completely submersed. Many rivers contain several 3ft long pike but how many times have you seen one?

      A 10ft fish travelling up the river underwater and unseen is VERY plausible. Stop fighting it.

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    2. Bellicose by name, bellicose by nature?

      I wouldn't fight it in theory, but in practise no sturgeon has ever turned up in Loch Ness. You can't demand a Nessie carcass but then turn round and say no sturgeon carcass is required.

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    3. Hello Glasgow Boy, you say no sturgeon has ever turned up in Loch Ness, but what you are really saying is that 1) 'you' are 2) 'unaware of' 3) 'any reports of' them being seen and recognised in Loch Ness, which is a far cry from a proof of absence. A.sturio spends most of it's life at sea, only venturing into freshwater to spawn at intervals of several years. The are records of sturgeon at the entrance to the Caledonian Canal at Inverness, and elsewhere in the Moray Firth, where they would only be found if they had been on their way to spawn in freshwater. The Dallas sketch is probably best interpreted as a spawning sturgeon. They do not die after spawning so there is no reason to expect a carcass. On balance, reports of creatures of a crocodilian appearance in Loch Ness or the River Ness should be attributed to sturgeon unless there is evidence to the contrary.

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    4. I don't deny sturgeons could have got into Loch Ness over the centuries. The point is none have ever been conclusively found, So, it's a bit like Nessie, spoken of but never caught.

      What you need to come back with is an estimate of frequency of visits to Loch Ness. Once a year, decade, century?

      Delete
  26. They are sneaky and swim below the surface like the salmon and sea trout which most people don't notice either.

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  27. But not sneaky enough to hide in the shallow parts.

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  28. There was one sighting of a crocodile-like creature in the river that some have claimed could've been a sturgeon. There was also a sighting in the river of a humped, long necked critter described as looking like a prehistoric animal. Now I don't get the logic at work here. A sturgeon-like sighting is a sturgeon (of which there aren't any in the historical record). A crocodile-like sighting is a sturgeon. But the humped, long necked, prehistoric looking animal is: a.) An Unrecognized Conventional Animal (Otter or Seal) b.) A Tall Tale c.) Unacceptable Testimony (because it can't be put in the big fish box). Hmmm. I can't help thinking that those who subscribe to this logic say: "Heads I win, tails you lose" when flipping a coin!
    Paddy

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    1. Going on that premise, where's the logic in believing reports of a three-humped, long-necked, prehistoric-looking creature when there's absolutely zero evidence anywhere on earth of those creatures existing in the past 65 million years?
      Sturgeon, ottters, seals, and deer are scoffed at as explanations for monster sightings and they exist without question, with many demanding proof that one or more of them have ever frequented Loch Ness, yet sightings of strange, prehistoric-looking creatures of extremely varied descriptions are bought into mostly based on eyewitness accounts backed up by zero tangible evidence, and then the demand is prove they DON'T exist? Doesn't logic seem to fall apart there more so than with the idea of a Sturgeon, otter, seal, deer, wake, wave, etc.?
      I'm not saying these explain every strange bit of phenomena on the Loch, but if we're trying to be logical here, they're certainly more logical explanations than a prehistoric creature that eyewitnesses can't consistently describe as appearing the same. It just doesn't make sense.

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  29. Isnt the sturgeon prehistoric ?

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  30. Wasnt there zero evidence of the colecanth existing after millions of years either? Until one was found.

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  31. Oh the coelacanth. The dear old coelacanth. To use a favourite GB phrase, this one gets "trotted out" every now and then.

    I think it's a completely useless weapon in the believers' meagre arsenal. It's no more relevant to Loch Ness than the fact that new insects are still being discovered in rainforests. Let me explain. ..

    The coelacanth was known to exist before the great western "discovery" you are talking about. The fishermen in the area it was caught had caught this species before. It was a known fish by the people of those waters. It is only a relatively "new discovery" in the eyes of western textbooks. No one who thought it didn't exist was actually looking for it. And the oceans are vast...

    The differnces between this and the Loch Ness situation should be obvious. Loch Ness is tiny in comparison to the oceans. Loch Ness is in a populated area and it is surrounded by roads. People are looking for a monster which they believe to be as much as 30 feet long - huge in comparison to the coelacanth. Finally, Loch Ness was solid ice until 12,000 years ago! All life in the loch travelled there since then. There is no Loch Ness unique species, it makes no sense for there to be one.

    I find the travelling Nessie theory hilarious by the way. Apparently a giant imaginary dinosaur can move around the rivers but a real big fish can't! !

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    1. Well, I don't rely on the coelacanth here, but you knew that. Plenty more stuff to use.

      BTW, who is saying Loch Ness has a "unique species"?

      Dinosaur? Who are you addressing with that interpretation?

      I would regard the LNM as more amphibious than a sturgeon.

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    2. Geordie Sceptic, you find your own jokes hilarious? As far as I'm aware, no believers in unrecognised, rogue ocean dwellers believe in "giant imaginary dinosaurs". If you're going to criticise ideas, why not criticise ones that people hold rather than your own satirical inventions?

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    3. The travelling Nessie theory is not my invention, so no not laughing at my own joke.

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    4. You didn't write "travelling nessie" originally - you wrote "giant imaginary dinosaur". Do stand by your own choice of words

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  32. Burton, I never said to anybody to prove multi-humped, long-necked animals don't exist. I would never say that for the simple reason that the burden of proof doesn't lie with the sceptic, but rather with the believer. And of course you can't prove a negative, so the sceptic is off the hook in that regard. I'm inclined to think you'd agree with that.

    I don't scoff at sightings of seals, otters and what have you as probable explanations for some Nessie sightings. Just the opposite. (As for the sturgeon, there are no sturgeon or sturgeon-like sightings in the historical record). What I take issue with is when these are oh-so-conveniently trotted out as explanations for sightings when the details of the eyewitness testimony simply doesn't support it. To reiterate the point of my previous post, sceptics seem to want to have it both ways. You accept eyewitness testimony when it can be fit into the big fish box or seal box, but the minute a long neck and hump or humps is mentioned, the eyewitnesses are visually impaired and the elongated neck is a cormorant or log and the hump or humps are logs or wake effects. This despite the fact that the eyewitness saw the animal at close distances or looked at it through binoculars. That's the double standard I object to Burton. And I say that as a Nessie agnostic.

    As for lack of evidence in the fossil record, there was no record of the Megamouth shark until one was finally caught. Granted that's an ocean dwelling fish, but my current viewpoint is that Nessies, if they exist, are also ocean dwellers that only occasionally get into the Loch. Sceptics don't have a problem with the idea of an occasional sturgeon or even a Greenland shark getting into the Loch, getting big and being responsible for some sightings and sonar contacts, but the possibility of an undiscovered species (or possibly an evolutionary descendent of an ancient species) doing the very same thing is rejected. Another double standard.

    Burton, you yourself have said that the conventional explanations can't explain all the strange phenomenon. That's my basic point! Believe me, if I could put this mystery down to a combination of an out of place, but known animal/fish combined with physics and, perhaps, a little bit of psychology, I gladly would! But the thing is, there are a number of sightings in the historical record that simply defy that sort of explanation. Given this, I have to remain open-minded to the possibility of the existence of an animal/fish that, in both size and general physical traits, bears at least a superficial resemblance to extinct aquatic reptiles due to convergence evolution. Or that a descendent of those extinct aquatic reptiles exists. Personally, if one of these two options is the truth, I'd bet on the former.

    Paddy

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    1. Paddy, the believer's insurmountable problem is that the eyewitness reports are quite literally backed by nothing whatsoever. In 80 years we have not even one good photo or video, and not even a fragment of a carcass. In a lake this simply does not add up. People can fog the issue with theories of shock and awe, try to say the stats are against an image being captured, but it just doesn't cut it anymore. The sceptical stance is that it is quite simply impossible for a lake only a mile wide to harbour such animals for so many decades and for this zero evidence situation to continue. Hence for those of us who use our heads over our hearts we have to conclude that there have been, and will continue to be, a multitude of natural phenomena causing these misperceptions. The longer this situation persists, the more people such as yourself will - albeit reluctantly - arrive at the same conclusion.

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    2. Well, thanks for wrapping up the mystery, GS. Once again, I can close down the blog and pursue other more nobler interests such as collecting priceless sceptical comments.

      But, once again, I don't think I will close down the blog. Mainly, because you (once again) beam down from the USS Critical Thinking with your pointy ears to us benighted primitives and make your dogmatic pronouncements.

      Perhaps you're in violation of the Prime Directive and should naDevvo' yIghoS as they say on Kronos?

      Perhaps others have noticed in your diatribe against anecdotal evidence that you also make an anecdotal statement in evidence against them? Can your Spock logic guess what it is? (that's the only question you should consider replying to I suggest).

      The point is, your theories are weak as the ones you fulminate against. In fact, some of them are laughable and unworthy of critical thinking. I have covered these in other areas, if you're shaping up for a thousand comment thread on "why the Loch Ness Monster does not exist" to keep you busy over Christmas and show us all how clever you are, then you can forget it.

      If you have any comments against my observations on so called sceptical arguments, find the appropriate article and submit the appropriate comment. If you're going to just repeat what others have said and clog up comment space, I would counsel you not to bother submitting.



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    3. I agree with many of your points, Paddy, and I'd like to reiterate that I'm not a stone cold skeptic - I'm merely skeptical of a bulk of the evidence collected and presented so far, and often find the rationale behind acceptance of more mundane explanations odd.
      I understand that odd, unknown creatures are out there waiting to be discovered, and ones thought extinct to many may still exist. My problem with the plesiosaur theory is that logic dictates such a large creature would have certainly been discovered, seen, photographed and recorded clearly, with remains found or live animals captured. They were not bottom dwellers or freshwater creatures as far as I know. Large, surface dwellers would not remain hidden. As for sturgeon, well they are prehistoric but are known to exist by science and irrefutable proof. So are sharks and crocodiles.
      It certainly could be another creature, such as an eel, something amphibious as you said, with logic pointing towards a more mundane creature such as that.

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  33. Paddy, could you give us a few examples of the sightings referred to in your last paragraph please? Thanks.

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  34. Geordie, nice try at attempting to nullify the coelacanth precedent, but no cigar. The basic point, that they lived on despite the fossil record indicating that they went extinct 65,000,000 years ago, still holds.

    You wrote: "No one who thought it didn't exist was actually looking for it. And the oceans are vast." I concur! The oceans are vast. Many scientists say that it's not only possible, but highly likely that there are undiscovered species existing in those vast oceans. And it's possible that members of an undiscovered species occasionally make their way into bodies of water such as Loch Ness. Sceptics grant this possibility to known species such as sturgeon or Greenland sharks, but if an undiscovered species with some unusual physical traits is proposed as doing the same thing then suddenly all bets are off! It's at this point that Occam's Razor (or rather a misuse of it) gets invoked as an argument against the undiscovered species with unusual physical traits. But when you get right down to it it's not so much the idea of an undiscovered species that's the sticking point as it is those unusual physical traits. Because those physical traits call to mind extinct aquatic reptiles - and that is the crux of the matter regarding the Nessie mystery. Yet, when we look at the existing animal kingdom, we see animals that have some of those very traits. Elephant seals have big torsos and (2) flippers. Some turtles have very long necks and 4 flipper -like appendages. But if a species is proposed that has a relatively big torso, flippers and an elongated neck it's met with skepticism. This despite the fact that at one time aquatic animals with these very traits did exist! But that's the sticking point. The proposed species looks too much like the extinct species for science's comfort level - the uncomfortable implication being that the exinct species may not in fact be extinct!

    Paddy

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    1. Paddy, take a look at what I wrote - the coelacanth was NOT extinct as far as the people fishing the area were concerned. They had been catching and eating coelacanths for as long as they could remember! And unless you can buy Nessie steaks in Dores I think we have a glaring difference here.

      Science has no discomfort whatsoever about Loch Ness as far as I can see. They probably did have back in the 60s and early 70s but not now. They tend to be a boring lot and rely on that old-fashioned thing called "evidence", which I'm sure even a diehard such as yourself would agree is totally lacking outside the realm of anecdotes.

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  35. Here's a few: Kathleen MacDonald 1934. 3 humps and head/neck from 40 yards. Witnessed the humps changing shape from a single hump to 3.

    Brother Richard Horan 1934. Head/neck. Estimated length: 3-1/2 feet. Range: 30 yards. Independently witnessed by 3 other people from a different location.

    Marjorie Moir 1936. 3 humps and head/neck. Witnessed this with 4 or 5 other people. Estimated length: 30 feet. Sighting lasted 14 minutes.

    John MacLean 1938. 2 humps, head/neck and tail. Range: 20 yards. Estimated length: 18-20 feet.

    C.B. Farrell 1943. Member of Royal Observer Corp. Head/neck body observed at range of 250 yards with binoculars. Estimated size: 25-30 feet.

    J. Harper-Smith OBE 1951. Head/neck. Estimated length 5 feet. Width 1 foot. Range: Several hundred yards. Son also witnessed.

    Hamish MacKintosh 1959. AAA patrolman. Head/neck and broad, very big humped body. Estimated length of head/neck: 8 feet. Was joined by a small group of other people. All witnessed the animal sink vertically. Estimated range: a few hundred yards.

    Dan MacIntosh and James Cameron 1963. Head/neck and small hump. Estimated length of head/neck: 4-5 feet. Range: 20-30 yards.

    Paddy

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    1. Paddy - thank you for the list.

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  36. Nobody was actually looking for the coelacanth ? Lmao that is the daftest statement i have read in all of these blogs.

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    1. Your short comments add nothing here. Very obviously no westerner was searching for a fish they thought extinct. Why would they? Please show any references you can find which suggest coelacanths were being hunted by westerners during the times they were considered extinct.

      The comments section would benefit greatly from a little more insight and intelligence from certain quarters. Particularly this person who keeps blurting out statements which clearly do not have any facts to go with them.

      T. McCloskey

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    2. Thats why i stated some weeks ago that DR was the only sceptic i wud take much notice of!!! Some drivel written!!!

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    3. Who was hunting the coelacanth Jake? Would that be the same people who go on triceratops hunts?

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  37. Geordie, you keep side-stepping the issue that the coelacanth was missing from the fossil record for 65,000,000 years. As for being caught, you're presumably ok with the idea of some Nessie sightings being caused by some type of large fish, yet no one has managed to pull a sturgeon or Greenland shark out of the Loch as of yet. Lastly, until one was caught there was no record of the megamouth shark's existence.

    As for evidence being "totally lacking," there is some evidence, or at least data, but the problem is that it's inconclusive. But Geordie I agree with you on what you referred to a while back as "the elephant in the room" - the lack of decent film evidence after all these years. That is what caused me to become a Nessie agnostic! So your reference to me as a "diehard" is erroneous. I just object to the double standards in the treatment of the eyewitness testimony and the theory of an unknown animal getting in from the sea as opposed to a known animal.

    I just happen to think that if a trained observer claims to have seen a 25-30 foot animal with a head-neck at a range of 250 yards through X6 binoculars (which would be the equivalent of roughly 42 yards) we don't say they saw a seal, or driftwood!
    Paddy

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    1. Paddy, I am not evading the fossil record issue at all. I acknowledge it. What I'm saying is that there are enough crucial differences between the story of the coelacanth and what people are claiming at Loch Ness for the comparison to be worthless.

      As for my belief that some Nessie sightings could be down to sturgeon - I only think it's *possible*, not proven. And if it has happened then of course it would have been rare.

      But for me at least, the concept of the occasional visit from known animals like sturgeon and seals is a proposition many factors more likely than the idea of some permanent colony of huge animals roughly the shape of plesiosaurs evading all detection techniques while at the same time putting on the odd spectacular display to enable no doubt among the eyewitnesses. Does not compute!

      My contention regarding your last paragraph is that the total absence of even one good video after all this time proves the very thing we all find so hard to accept - that even the most seasoned observers can and do make big mistakes when seeing confusing things on the loch. I've experienced this myself and I spent years fishing as a child. My view is that perception and memory are far more fallible than most of us realise, and the absence of an image capture during a sighting can lead to a memory of something far more spectacular becoming entrenched and solidified in the mind. A person who has seen something can go to their grave utterly convinced it was a huge monster as long as there is no challenging video or photo available to question their perception and memory.

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  38. The dodo is still alive. Its just nobody has looked hard enough lmao pmpl

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  39. Since this has been a busy thread with lots of participants I'd like to take advantage of the thread's popularity in order to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

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    1. Indeed, a Merry Christmas to one and all.

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