Wednesday, 25 January 2017

A Previously Unpublished Monster Sighting




Late last year I received an email from a reader telling me about her sighting of a strange object in Loch Ness over ten years ago. I get various emails at certain times from people who claim to have seen the monster and having checked she was not one of those Fake News sceptics who sometime pretend to be a witness, I am happy to recount her story to readers today. I reproduce her email to me below.

Hi, I have been reading your blog for a while now and have toyed with the idea of emailing you about a sighting myself and my husband had in 2000-2003 (not sure exactly what year it was). I have been interested in Nessie since I was young and my parents used to keep newspaper clippings for me and also make sure I could watch any news items on it.

Having grown up and married I travelled to Loch Ness once a year for a week with my husband and daughter. The last time it was just me and my husband. We were staying at Invermoriston Caravan and Camping Site in a caravan. The evening we had the sighting we had been to the Sports club at Lewiston at least I think its Lewiston as we stayed in a log cabin there the first time we came up.

It was about 8pm and I was driving back to Invermoriston and just before the bend near Urquhart Castle my husband said there is something in the water over there. I pulled in but couldn't see anything so he said to look across the bay and half an inch out I could just see something black. I turned the car around and sped back round through Drum and round the other side of the bay.

As we came round the bend I couldn't believe my eyes as there was a huge hump about 3 to 4 foot high. It reminded me of a huge chocolate brazil if you understand what I mean by the shape of it and a ridge running right the way down it. It looked mottled but I don't think it was rough just appeared so because of the mottling.

I am not sure I will be believed because it was so close inshore, feet rather than yards. I had only just come round the bend and was worried if I stopped that a car may come round and hit me but slowed down and we had a very good look at it. I drove until I came to a layby and waited for a long time but saw nothing more. I have no idea how deep the water is there but it was definitely not a bird, log or seal. It was enormous.

We have told people but as always we just get laughed at or asked how much had we drunk. I really don't care if anybody believes me but thought you might like to have the sighting for your records. I would of course rather stay anonymous as to most people its a laughable subject but I know what I saw that evening and whatever the animal is its huge.

I asked her to sketch what she saw and that drawing is shown above.  Enquiring more, she told me the length of the object at the water baseline was about seven feet, which tallies with the height of three to four feet mentioned in the original communication. The month of the sighting was also June.

As to where the creature was on the second, closer sighting, the witness cannot remember the exact location, but we can assume it was likely to be between the two lines shown on the map below.




By the time they parked at the lay by and went to the location of the object, it was no longer visible, despite waiting for a prolonged period of time. The presumption being that is had either submerged or moved off. I also asked whether the closer view on going round the bend was at Temple Pier, but she was sure it was further on.

Looking into the account more closely, the creature could have been at one of multiple points along the shoreline indicated in the picture below. Temple Pier is to the left and the curvature of the hill to the right sets a natural limit on where the creature could have been seen from Urquhart Castle.



As you can see from the buildings, this area would normally be a place of activity with people milling about and boats heading in and out of the pier. However, at 8pm onwards, most activity would have closed down for the day.

Looking further at the shoreline image for objects that could be mistaken for a seven by four foot dark shaped hump, the options are severely limited. We see buoys and some moored boats. In their attempts to discredit this report, sceptics may well resort to at least two items of fake news. They may say it was a boat, perhaps covered by tarpaulin. One would wonder why this imaginary boat then disappeared from view (covered in tarpaulin)? I note there is a covered object (probably a boat) in the photo, but it is on terra firma.

The sceptic may also try and cast doubt upon the location and claim nothing would be visible from the road due to the tree line. Having "driven" the route via Google StreetView, I am not buying that one. Or perhaps our witnesses saw the fibreglass hump that formed the basis of the 2012 George Edwards hoax which would have been used in that area? It did have a nice ridge to it, after all. Well, apart from being much smaller, this prop was used much later in 2011.

Or perhaps it was the oft invoked seal-on-demand which turns up just at the right time of witness reports before disappearing back to the sea. It could present a mottled appearance, but again, it would be too small, not have such a ridge and could not arch or suspend its back in the way described.

Either way, the witness was convinced that what they both saw was unusual and an animal.


THOSE RIDGED BACKS

The mention of the ridge running right down the back of the creature places this sighting in a unique niche of reports which mention this curious feature. Looking back at the database of sightings, I can count eight reports which mention a ridged back or something similar. That comprises less than one percent of all sightings, though I suspect there may be more; especially those describing the creature like an upturned boat, which suggests the underside ridge of its structure (see photo below).




So, the ridge may be more commonplace than realised. But going back to the sightings which are explicit on the matter, readers may be reminded of the Commander Meiklem report from August 5th 1933 in which he described a similar object in Inchnacardoch Bay. Curiously, this object was also seen in shallow waters and was also about four feet out of the water. The illustration is from Rupert T. Gould's book, "The Loch Ness Monster and Others".




We could also not pass by Tim Dinsdale's account of his filming of a strange hump in April 1960 from Foyers. In his first book, he included a sketch of the hump he saw through binoculars and one can clearly see the ridge line splitting the hump into two sections.




Another famous monster hunter saw a ridged back on June 15th 1965. That man was F.W. Holiday who describes his sighting of a humped object in his book, "The Great Orm of Loch Ness". He sketched what he saw (below) for the book. I would point out that Meiklem, Dinsdale and Holiday all observed their objects through binoculars for greater clarity.



What is of more interest was the sighting by Mrs M'Grath and her son in Loch Dochfour just north of Loch Ness on the 11th June 1935. As reported by the Scotsman newspaper, the long head and neck was accompanied by a back from which "protruded two distinct rows of fin-like excrescences, also several feet apart". The creature was seen at a range of about 100 yards. An excrescence refers to a growth, protuberance or swelling and so on. M'Grath's ridge sounds more haphazard in appearance than the smoother ridges of Dinsdale and Holiday. 

Another reason why ridges may not be so visible may be down to the large distances involved in many sightings. but perhaps also that many will be side views of the back seen at almost eye level. For example, the other witnesses to Holiday's encounter, who were on the other side of the loch, drew a side on hump with no ridge.

One sighting on our list that bucks that trend is the August 16th 1933 account by Mrs E. Scott who saw a blackish ridge along the top of the hump. However, the object in question was about 800 yards away and was only seen for a few seconds and hence is not as strong as the other reports.

The final case I wish to mention brings things up to date and is William Jobes' report from May 2011. William has mentioned the possibility of a ridged back in his photos of the creature. The best picture is shown below which does give the suggestion of an unevenness along the back. 




However, something need to be compared and contrasted here. Namely, that a ridged back appears to conflict with the observation that the creature can control its humps in an almost fluid manner. Be it air sacs or fatty deposits, how does that fit in with a solid, ridged back?

Well, it is not clear that the ridge is as solid as it may appear. In fact, it is not clear what it is at all. Is it just darker markings along the presumed spine of the creature? Is it just skin deep serrations which would readily yield to expansion of the skin during sac inflation? I would go for the latter theory, thus accommodating both aspects of the creature's gross morphology.

What the ridge feature signifies as regards the creature's possible identity is ambiguous. Plesiosaurs are sometimes depicted with ridged backs, though it is not clear to me whether the fossil record bears out such an interpretation.




That other favourite of Nessie theories, the Atlantic Sturgeon, definitely sports a nice ridged pattern on its back, but could not possibly arch its back in the manner of the beast described by our various witnesses.




What I would say is that this ridge is inconsistent with a mammalian interpretation such as a long necked seal. However, some would interpret such a ridge as a mane, which would obviously take us to a fur lined Nessie, which is inconsistent with the vast majority of eyewitness accounts.

The idea of a mane tends to focus more on the neck of the creature rather than the entire length of the back. But the ridge as an extended mane is nicely pictured on Peter Costello's "In Search of Lake Monsters" where the extended mane idea is clearly seen.




So, it appears to be a case of "you pays your money and you takes your choice" with these ridge theories. We began with a good sighting of the monster just over ten years ago and expanded into the general realm of monster morphology. The witness was hesitant to write due to the predictable disdain and scorn of sceptics.

They will disdain and they will scorn, hence the anonymity. At this blog, we continue to accept genuine eyewitness accounts, just as the monster continues to appear at the loch.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com






39 comments:

  1. I would interprate the ladies drawing 'ridge back' as to be the spine of the creature as one could see for example on a elephant (not that I'm stating an elephant explanation for the sighting)

    As to upturned boat reports and the drawing on this page I would consider a spinal column is interpreted as a 'ridge' we could then rule out one theory that Nessie is a giant sea slug.

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    1. Mackal: "In a moment, the black back of a creature, which was elongated and convex, broke the surface. The texture appeared like the skin of an elephant - no hair, scales, or anything else notable. The back had a slight ridge-like configuration, but no serrations."

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  2. Mackal also described a ridge in his sighting, which can be read at Karl Shuker's blog. As to the lady's sighting, sceptics may not be too dismissive of it since it falls into the upturned boat category, which can be fitted into the big fish theory that sceptics seem to be amenable to.

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  3. Yes no ridges on catfish, no humps on sturgeon, no ridges on slug like creatures, and salamanders have flattish backs not humped like a brazil nut? So what does it leave us with ?

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    1. We might assume the creature has a skeleton, smooth skin/maybe wrinkled, would rule out a fish (no scales)which tentatively might lead one to consider the possibility that Nessie is a mammal.

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    2. What does that leave us with? I always tended to an unknown species of fish, but I am always open to other interpretations. The reptile/mammal thing looks unlikely from the context of the loch's sustainability. However, interpreting LNM as reptile/mammal seeme to me like it should be taken in tandem with the assumption that the creatures can get in and out of the loch.

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    3. I suppose a salamander could flex its body so it produces a hump like effect but i doubt to a size of 4ft with no head/tail visible. However it is possible the witness could have overestimated the size- its easily done on a large body of water or at a distance.

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    4. The water bull (grey photo) has no ridge except for its tale.
      Reference
      Roland
      Steve plambeck
      The waterhorse i dont know.

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  4. Some eels have, instead of a dorsal fin a ridge-like structure running down the back. Just sayin'...

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    1. True. No way they can arch like that though.

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  5. It certainly sounds like a classic sighting in many ways, so long as the witness is being truthful. No reason to believe she's not. When she says it was close to the shore, I wonder just how accurately this could be ascertained given the view from a distance, and at whatever angle it was. I know there are parts of the loch reasonably close to shore that drop down very quickly, but does that tally? But then we have had land sightings.....
    I was watching Planet Earth 2 recently when David Attenborough commented that the Komodo dragon needs much less food than a mammal to survive, I can't remember the figure but maybe 10%? Maybe food source is not so much of an issue.

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  6. Paddy, in response to your query .. fake news!

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  7. Martin, a couple of years ago I caught the latter part of a Discovery Channel documentary about a type of Mosasaur that could regulate its metabolism. If memory serves the animal's metabolism would only kick into high gear when hunting prey. The rest of the time it would shut itself down for all practical purposes, thereby conserving energy. As I recall the narrator said that because of this the animal didn't need to come up to breathe very often. This really got my attention, and of course brought to mind Nessie. If one aquatic reptile could regulate its metabolism, why not another? I wish I knew the title of that documentary as I'd like to see it again (and recommend it to others).

    GB: Damn! Why do people pull stunts like that?

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    1. I wonder how they know that about the mosasaur, based only on fossil evidence. It's true that crocodiles have various tricks to allow them to stay under for longer:
      https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg14519612-900-why-crocodiles-rarely-come-up-for-air/

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    2. Fascinating Paddy. It was 10% for the Komodo dragon, I checked it out. I, no expert in the least, don't think that this animal is an air breather myself. I think there was a sonar study from the late 60s that suggested 2 large objects were picked up rising to a particular depth, holding that depth, and then falling again. Apparently indicative of a water breathers behaviour, and I can imagine why. I can't find the event right now, but I clearly remember reading it. I think we'd be seeing air breathers all the time, especially in Loch Ness. But the mosasaur metabolism idea is very interesting. I just wish this critter would hurry up and be discovered. I'm 42 now, heard about it all 30 something years ago, and don't know how many blocks of 30 years are left!

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    3. No air breathers in Loch Ness, unless they have a way of getting in and out discretely.

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    4. You cant be so sure Glasgow boy.

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    5. GB..."No air breathers in Loch Ness, unless they have a way of getting in and out discretely"

      Are you suggesting that Nessie leaves the water and crawls on land or transverses (if so) in shallow rivers? My thoughts, maybe not in the Caladonian canal nor the river Ness but maybe rivers south west of Fort Augustas?

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    6. Well, you may know I advocate terrestrial excursions by Nessie, but not in the context of intra-loch travels. I would find it odd that a large creature could lumber on land for miles without being seen!

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  8. That's a good question David. Then again, how can they know much of anything about the prehistoric reptiles based soley on fossil evidence. I think it's largely educated guesswork. It may be right - or it may be dead wrong. Some of the prior thinking on plesiosaurs has gone by the wayside. They were once thought to be cold-blooded egg-layers who dwelled primarily in shallow seas and rowed with their paddles. It's now established that they (or at least some) were were cold tolerant, flew through the water by moving their paddles up and down, inhabited lake environments and gave birth to live young one offspring at a time (and were apparently nurturers as parents). The idea that plesiosaurs were something like long-necked, flippered crocodiles (which I used to subscribe to) is erroneous.

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  9. The truth is nobody really knows. Take a look at the Musk turtle for example- it has a so called super tongue that stores oxygen and can stay underwater for weeks without surfacing.

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    1. That's quite amazing. But I think the loch was scanned for an air breather, or one with lungs in the conventional sense. I'm not sure how well it was scanned though.

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    2. Deepscan missed a lot.the beams saare not consistent in penetration and sides.

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    3. You never know, with this new 3d technology all sorts of things are turning up.

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  10. Im not sure if a creature sitting on the bottom or in the side walls of the loch that has slowed its breathing right down would get picked up on sonar? And none of the sonar sweeps of the loch have covered the whole area in one go so for me it cant be ruled out.

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    1. Does that behaviour have any precedents in nature that you know of? I can imagine that any creature that doesn't want to be found might lie along the sides at the bottom, but I'm not sure about an apex predator. Can they below key, because this creature is certainly that.

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    2. Autocorrect. That should read 'be low key'.

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  11. In regards to operation deepscan wouldn't any semi intelligent and extraordinarily elusive creature avoid that flotilla of boats and surface activity??
    Nessie could have been in urqhart bay or along the loch sides waiting motionless, possibly even on land during the search. Deepscan was a great effort but the sweep zone was not near 100% of the Loch.
    The sonar printouts would still be blurry and unclear even if Nessie was twenty feet from the 1987 sonar equipment which always showed traces as confusing and inconclusive. The deepscan technology would not clearly depict a large animal motionless clinging to the steep sidewalls or perhaps partially buried in bottom silt.


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    1. And I believe it did detect 3 large entities, although no one quite knows what they were. Since I'm not a user of sonar from the 80s era, I'd love to know the opinion of people who used it outside the confines of Ness. How does it work? What do you see? Do you ever pick up anomalies? Arthur C Clarke said, in 1980, that the seas were becoming transparent, due to sonar advancements. Maybe we're finally at that point.

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    2. Three objects were detected that were larger than any fish known in the loch, roughly the size of 10-15 ft long. Adrian Shine admits they are strange and remain mysterious.
      If they only had the sonar used in finding the sunken nessie movie prop last year back in the Operation Deepscan era!
      The cruise boats on the Loch use sonar all the time, hopefully the crews are still finding regular midwater contacts.

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    3. Jack, in these mysterious cases, Adrian and co press the nuclear button called "The Ubiquitous Seal". It's another cryptid which has the ability to turn up on demand from the sea, pop up in front of sonar or witnesses in perplexing ways and disappear from view again. It never fails to turn up on demand when the sceptic is in a corner.

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    4. I had a chat with Adrian Shine while on vacation years ago. I was exiting the LN exhibition center and recognised that beard of Adrian's. Good chap and I enjoyed a conversation with him about lake cryptids. Yes he is a sceptic and I disagree with his Dinsdale film analysis. I believe Tim Dinsdale filmed the real thing and was not mistaken by a boat, he viewed a large creature through binoculars and I take that as solid testimony from an honest intelligent man.

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  12. I was in a sporting goods store a couple of days ago, and they have sonar units on display, so out of curiousity I looked them over. Some of the units were imaging sonar with a depth range of 1000 feet. Good for Loch Ness! One of these units was on sale for $200 bucks! This was a Lowrance brand, the same brand used on Operation Deepscan. So an individual researcher can do their own sonar scans on the Loch as the equipment is now affordable. And while sonar targets can be dismissed as a log, seal, temperature differential, etc. if the imaging capability produces a real good image ...

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    1. Nice, just need a boat.

      Been laying low like Nessie this week, had a cold. Time to get posting again!

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  13. I was reading up on imaging sonar Sunday morning and a technical expert said that in 10 years the technology will be so advanced that the images will be photo quality. So instead of researchers having to put sonar units and underwater cameras separately down into a body of water and hope the camera can capture an image of a sonar target, the imaging sonar will be able to do it on its own!
    Folks, google imaging sonar alligator if you want to see something impressive. And the technology will only improve!

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    1. I see that. I would however imagine the imaging equipment would have to be quite near to the target to achieve such resolution.

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  14. GB, I don't know for sure, but I think the imaging equipment is on the boat itself. A sonar transducer that can be towed from a boat or attached to the stern on a pole-like device sends and receives the signals which are then processed into images on the boats fishfinder equipment. I'm still just at the very beginning of educating myself on this technology, but the fact that the alligator image can be discerned to be an alligator, combined with the fact that the technology will only improve with time bodes well for Loch Ness research.

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  15. If the Loch was sonar scanned top to bottom and side to side with this quality imaging I would be eager to see it all first hand. This photo quality sonar in years time would reveal much about the Loch and leave little room for misinterpretation if Nessie was caught in its beams. It would be great to see every cruise boat on the Loch outfitted with this technology and see what results occur. If the imaging is so clear I wonder if the range in ten years can be greatly improved, for example seeing the deepest parts off Strone point with clarity from the surface. A 24 hr continuous sonar beam at the mouth of Urquhart bay and around the horseshoe would be interesting to observe.

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