Wednesday, 24 May 2017

More on Nessie the Predator

I recently published a letter from Tim Dinsdale to Herman Cockrell and was struck by Tim's concern to Herman in case he ever ventured out in his kayak again - "... for heaven's sake, be careful ... the plesiosaurs were predatory animals!".

That was back in 1961 when Tim discussed his first book, "Loch Ness Monster". What he thought of their predatory habits twenty years later as his book approached its final revision may have been less dramatic, but it brought back to mind my article on the possible predatory habits of the creature on land as well something Tim wrote some years later.

That view of mine was twisted by some sceptics, but I want to quote a story I read recently in Tim's other book, "Monster Hunt" on page 38:

During the course of the Loch Ness expeditions I have been careful to collect 'odd' stories, and scraps of information which, for one reason or another, lie outside the usual category of evidence. Much of this information is based on hearsay, which can be very unreliable; but some of it is believable because of the circumstances connected with it. One such account emphasizes the carnivorous nature of the beast — or Beiste, as it is known in the Gaelic. Some years ago, a stag was hunted down one of the glens which lead to the northern shore of Loch Ness.

In fear it entered the water, swimming out strongly. When some way out it became involved in a sudden swirl. Changing direction, it headed back to the shore — but on climbing out, over the rocks and shingle, it was seen, quite literally, to be walking on three legs. The fourth leg was missing! The reason why this account has not been publicized is because the stag was not, I understand, being hunted legally. A recurring situation in the Highlands of Scotland, one may add.

If this story is true, I would surmise the Loch Ness Monster was the only Loch Ness inhabitant capable of parting a deer from one of its legs. The thought naturally arose as to why we don't hear more of these predatory stories. Admittedly, it is rare to even see a deer swimming across the loch, let alone an incident like this. But I would add one other story here. It comes from the Inverness Courier of the 20th October 1933.

The community of Benedictine nuns who once resided near Fort Augustus are now living close to me here at Holme Eden Abbey, and one of the lay sisters, an old Inverness-shire woman, says she can remember fifty years ago talk of an uncanny beast being seen in the Loch, and also that animals grazing by the loch-side disappeared.

Livestock grazing beside the loch shores was undoubtedly a more common thing back in those days than it is now. This is exemplified by the postcard below of sheep moving along the shores of the loch. Clearly, such a sight would not be possible now on these car dominated roads, but I do not see much in the way of shoreline livestock on my trips and there is more in the way of wire fencing between them and the loch.

It also seems as if predation of humans is limited to the old water horse stories. I can think of no instance of a modern story which ascribes the disappearance of anyone to the Loch Ness Monster. Of course, people have disappeared around the loch over the decades and centuries. Most would have fallen into the loch from the shore or from boats and drowned. When searching old newspapers, I found quite a few stories of drowned people from the 19th century when health and safety procedures were not so important.

If such a thing happened alone and the body was never recovered, it is easy to raise a question mark over the cause of the disappearance. But is the lack of human predation a proof against the Loch Ness Monster? After all, if the monster is partial to salmon, trout and the odd deer, then why not humans?

It all goes back to Dinsdale's warning to Cockrell. It is reasonable to assume humans are on the menu if the monster is a form of plesiosaur. After all, it is doubtful that plesiosaurs have evolved into herbivores. Of course, their relatively small jaws could not swallow a human whole, but they could undoubtedly cause a fatal injury.

Yet multiple people have swum the loch and nothing has happened. Was this just expected due to the vast size of the loch or because the creature mainly sticks to the sides of the loch? Is this a proof that the creature is not carnivorous or, for some reason, humans are off the menu? After all, didn't Saint Columba only grant the creature the freedom of the loch if it left people alone? Only kidding.

However, my own opinion is that these creatures will in theory eat humans. If you eat meat and are a lot bigger than a human, it is reasonable to assume you will go for them. I would think, though, that they are opportunistic since their hunting instincts are not primarily geared to seek out humans. For example, a drowned body being scavenged or someone falling in 200 feet above them.

I don't think the number of times swimmers and divers have been in the loch has been statistically significant enough to trigger such an event. The loch has a volume of 7.4 billion cubic metres, the volume of a human is about 0.07 cubic metres. The odds of a human and a Nessie being in proximity are pretty small; but given enough time, something will eventually happen.

On an unrelated but interesting point, you would have noted our quote from the Inverness Courier of 20th October 1933 saying "she can remember fifty years ago talk of an uncanny beast being seen in the Loch". That would place events around 1883. By some strange coincidence, on the very same day, the historian, David Murray Rose, had a letter published in The Scotsman, saying this:

In the summer of 1885, stories were circulated about a strange beast being seen by many people about Loch Ness. It usually only appeared for a few minutes on the surface of the loch, so that no one could properly describe it.

Murray Rose has been panned by sceptics many a time. It's nice to see some corroboration for what he was claiming. Whether the kelpie-averse newspapers picked this up remains to be seen.

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  1. Interesting article.

    There are an increasing number of wild swimmers in the loch these days. People swim from Dores Beach 52 weekends a year, including me :-)

    I shall try to put this article out of my mind when I'm back in there on Saturday morning.

    1. They were on my mind. What route do they take? My view is the LNM does not go out and look for swimming humans/deer/etc, its more a case of they have to come to it.

    2. what ever you do while swiming,DON'T LOOK DOWN!
      Also forget about the large nessie's FIVE FOOT HEAD!!

  2. If you go to Dores beach you'll see coloured buoys out to about 400 metres. We generally swim a circuit round them, but I've also swum across the loch from the Wellington layby to Dores a couple of times. I've also swum from the Clansman, from Foyers campsite and in Urquhart Bay.

    1. Hmm, right. What is depth out to the buoys?

  3. I think you should bring your speedos and goggles next time you are up here Roland, and you can come for a dip with us.

    1. Aye, right! I'll bring my harpoon gun as well. :)

    2. One for you RP:

    3. PLEASE wear a go pro that live streams to the cloud,so in case,Just in case,the big nessie with the 5 foot head decides to eat you.( heaven forbid..)
      thank you

  4. Interesting stuff. I was taken by the fact that a journalist reported that a creature seen for a few minutes was difficult to describe​ by any eyewitnesses. That's a curious statement, but maybe relavent to the odd nature of the creature. It makes me think of something ethereal.

  5. Robert Badger's close underwater encounter works against the notion that Nessies' are occasional predators of humans in the water.

    1. Yes, it could. Though Robert Badger was not about to put the theory to the test!

    2. read tex gilroys hawksbury river monsters.they were plucking people off the rear of a stationary party victim was a cop.his friends noticed a big disturbance in the water behind the boat.if the animal is 45-60 -75 feet long,( hawksbury)its big enough to eat an adult human.
      then there's the water bull,or giant salamander.( grey photo) which at 30 feet could swallow a man.Imo.

  6. The bathymetric chart has Dores Bay at 50-100m deep. Water is pitch black though so you only see the bottom at the immediate shoreline though. I've never fancied diving down to test the depth

  7. GB, as you know Robert Badger got close to whatever it was he encountered. If Nessies' are opportunistic predators of humans then I would think that Mr. Badger would've been attacked under your proposed scenario.

    1. The nessie robert ran into looked rather well fed.

  8. I think the one torquil McLeod saw on the horseshoe screw could eat a bus full of tourists by the Loch !!! Lol

  9. These creatures were not designed to attack humans nor large prey like sheep and deer. They only like fish. They eat them whole. They don't chew like we do. They may spin like Crocodiles do to break up large fish. I've seen this once in Vermont.

    The creature in Lake Lybnykr Siberia has swallowed a Yakutian 5-year old boy whole in 1950's. The creature was subsequently captured by father and eviscerated to recover the boy's cadaver. The Mokele Mnembe (ostensibly a Plessie and not a sauropod as falsely assumed) attacks humans by smashing their canoes with it's head and neck. But nobody gets eaten. However, the humans don't survive the attack invariably. At Lake Champlain Champ does the same thing to stun fish. In 1969 at Loch Morar (70 miles from Ness), the obvious Plessie overtook and rammed a cabin cruiser at about 17-knots. One of the passengers broke a boat oar on it's back and his partner came up from the galley with a shotgun and blasted it. This with no obvious effect and it just submerged. They both said the head was surfaced and looking back at them during their assault on it.

    We've done more damage to Nessie then the other way around. We gouged it with boat props twice since 1943. We've rammed it at least once. Nessie may have only caused a death 2 or 3 times. First was in 565 AD with St Colomba present. Then there was the prop gouging at U-Bay which caused a passenger to have a cardiac arrest and die. And MAYBE (according to Peter Costello), a highway A82 road-worker in 1930's received massive trauma from Nessie's tail when he and other road-workers surrounded it on land and Nessie just defended itself before diving back in the Loch. Still trying to re-find that in Pete's book.

    1. mokele monster is not a plessie
      no flippers.
      legs with 3-4 clawed feet.Which it uses to dig out caves to hibernate in during the dry season.
      several good vids on this on you tube.
      they have plaster casts of the footprints and claws.its a sauropod.
      however there may be other animals sharing the river and lake tele.the sonlr showed snake like shapes with girth etc.
      So mokele is not a pleasiasaur as the natives point to sauropod pics not pleasiasaurs.

  10. On several nessie sightings salmon and other large fish have been observed jumping from the water as if frantic to escape a large predator, Rines and Winifred Carey witnessed this.
    If nessie is a predator humans must not be on her menu - by now we would know. Someone by now would be mauled, bitten, dragged away, or simply vanish. Plus such an apparently intelligent creature would not venture too close to humans and aware to avoid people.
    If nessie had a taste for human flesh it would be known.

    If nessie is a plesiosaur he/she would have a tiny brain and be aggressively attacking its prey without concern for being spotted.

    1. if a tourist disappeared how would you know?
      what about an illegal alien?
      a hobo?
      a foreigner visiting lochness,traveling alone,only registered in another city?
      the various monsters in Scotland. had ,at times,man eater reputation.
      i dont believe that is myth.

      read rex gilroy on the hawksbury river monsters.

      up to 20 people disappear near presque river on lake superior.
      which,randy braun thinks its the lake superior monster,Pressie,which hunted him,and he got a photo.
      these things are amphibian.
      and the stunning work of andrew bennett on ogopogo photos on land!!
      ogo also eats people sometimes.
      henry murdoch
      alan skarbo's son.