Sunday, 31 December 2017

Nessie Review of 2017

The leading headline from this year past concerning our favourite monster came towards the end of the year as it was loudly proclaimed by the mainstream media that this was a record year for sightings in the 21st century with a total of nine claimed views of the monster. To quote the summary from Gary Campbell's sightings website:

28th April - A Ms Cairney from Dunbartonshire was at the loch with three of her friends when they saw a 20m long series of waves move at about 5mph along the surface 500m out. It came out of nowhere and then disappeared the same way - they have confirmed that there was no boat traffic in the area. The sighting took place at 3pm from a layby on the A82 road between Drumnadrochit and Inverness.

1st May - Ms Johnson from Manchester was at Urquhart Bay taking pictures at dusk when she spotted  a dark shape in the water, higher than the waves.

12th June - Paula from Canada took a five minute video from the Loch Ness webcam at 11.20am. It shows an unknown object moving slowly down the middle of the loch towards Fort Augustus. This was similar to the further recoding she took on 26th June, above.

22nd June - Mr Jackson and his wife, visiting from Australia snapped something in the loch four miles south of Urquhart Castle at 5.18pm in the afternoon. The sighting lasted about five minutes - this is what they saw.

26th June - Paula from Canada took a video from the Loch Ness Webcam at 7pm. It shows an unknown object moving slowly north on the loch near Urquhart Castle.

22nd August - Mr Stuparich and three friends were out walking from the Dores Inn to Tor Point. As they came to the shore on the point all four  saw something huge in the water. They said it was an unusual shape - it arched out of the water then turned and went down underwater. The sighting took place at 3.41pm and lasted about 10 seconds.

29th September - Diana Turner from the USA was watching the Nessie on the Net webcam in the afternoon when she spotted a strange wake movement on the water. The sighting lasted about two minutes and other than the boat in the distance, she saw no other traffic on the loch. She snapped a picture of the wake.

2nd October - Mrs Stewart from Oldham was on honeymoon when she saw something moving in the water from the pier at Fort Augustus at 4pm. The creature disappeared when a boat came out from the canal to the loch. She managed to take a picture.

2nd November - Dr Knight and her son from the north of England pictured what appears to be a fin or similar at 11.25 am from a cruise boat on the loch. They didn't realise that they'd snapped anything until they were going through their holiday pictures.

Now when you present a list of eyewitness testimonies to a diverse group of people, you are not going to get anything like unanimity on how many were actual sightings. The sceptics will reject all of them and the most gullible believer will take them all. The more thoughtful advocates of the creatures will take the middle road.

You will note of these nine accounts, three were by people a long way from the loch using the Nessie on the Net webcam. This is a popular feature allowing many to indulge in a bit of armchair Nessie hunting. They have produced some interesting images over the years which this blog has covered. The problem is the camera is also a long way from the loch meaning anything of Nessie proportions will be no more than a blob on the screen.

The sighting by Hayley Johnson on the 1st May has been covered here too with some debate as to what she had photographed. In her own words:

I had stayed in a backpackers’ hotel and on my last night decided to go for a walk through the woods and ended up on the banks of the loch. It was lovely and at dusk. Then about half a mile away I saw this dark shape sticking up – like a neck. I thought at first it was a tree, but it was very strange. I took a picture. It was there for a couple of seconds, but when I looked back it was gone. I was shocked.




It was claimed she had simply photographed one of the various logs that are washed into the bay from the rivers. One such log was proposed which I photographed on my visit to the loch the following month. I rejected that theory as the log looked nothing like the object in the picture, but I also did something that sceptics never do - I listened to what the witness said about the object. That is, she said the object disappeared and logs don't do that.




What may be of more interest was this picture taken a week later of an evident Nessie model floating in the same area. But was this curious object even there a week before when Ms. Johnson walked along the bay and did it have any connection? I will come back to this item later, but the jury is out on Hayley's photo for me personally.




To that sightings list I could add the interesting experience of a local Foyers man on the 5th February which I covered here, though this only involved a water disturbance. Nothing was seen except a strange effusion of bubbles breaking the surface as it went in the direction of some jumping fish.

The picture taken by Rebecca Stewart on the 2nd October generated further interest as it had the look of a dorsal finned creature. It gained some traction, but in my own investigation of the picture, I contacted Marcus Atkinson of Cruise Loch Ness whose boats pass that way and the solution was soon at hand as a log, this time very appropriately shaped, had been taken by one of the crew. Problem solved.




Another curious picture was then one taken by Peter Jackson on the 22nd June shows another curiously shaped object making its way up the centre of the loch, some four miles south of Urquhart Castle. I wrote up on this at this article.

Retired engineer Mr Jackson, 64, and former lawyer Ms Weare, 60, said they were stunned by what was only the second claimed sighting of the monster this year. Ms Wearne said: 'I really was just stunned and I thought, "what is it?" It was pretty big even from 150 yards or more offshore. I didn't know what to think.
 
We took photos and showed them to people at a B&B and (then) on a cruise. Skipper for the Loch Ness Project, Ali Matheson, said he had not seen anything like it. It seemed to be moving fast but in the direction of the current. We just figured if he's worked on here for years and not seen anything like it, then it must be something.




Theories about swimmers and boats were dismissed, though the ubiquitous tree debris reared its ugly head again. The object looks static over the two pictures shown above and so one must tend to an inanimate interpretation, but the sceptical vigilantes who were quick to post pictures of logs after Hayley Johnson's story, were notable by their absence for this one. No one seems to have produced a natural picture of this object.

What was rather worrying was that the object was estimated to be 150 yards offshore and yet we have a poor quality image. Yet another epic fail on the much vaunted smartphone front, proving there is no substitute for quality, professional, telephoto zoom photography - unless the monster is close enough to see the whites of your fear laden eyes; and who is going to hang around for that photo-op? One thing seems certain for 2018, and that is a supply of interesting and usually inconclusive images to evoke further discussion and debate. 

But there was one instance where images obtained looked of a decent quality as a video emerged in early May of an apparent long necked creature swanning past a cruiser boat. It all looked good until that model Nessie picture shown above turned up and seemed to be in the line of travel of our static necked "Nessie". Further investigation led to the conclusion that another Nessie documentary was in the offing.




But in the pursuit of science at Loch Ness, news came in April of a New Zealand professor's attempt to find evidence of trace DNA of the monster, or eDNA as it is called. Professor Neil Gemmell had been to the loch, consulted a few people and headed back to Otago with the intent of crowd funding a major eDNA analysis of Loch Ness which promised to offer a complete DNA profile of the loch's residents.

Things turned decidedly shaky though when it turned out he needed £100,000 to pursue his research and since then it has all gone a bit quiet (though admittedly it always goes quiet during the winter months). Meanwhile, it seems another scientist has been quietly gathering water samples from Loch Morar for his own eDNA experiments. Perhaps 2018 will bring news of Mhorag rather than Nessie on this front.

The year 2016 had been a good year for Nessie books with four being published. However, 2017 seemed to only have one Nessie dedicated book and that of questionable quality, being the latest offering from arch-sceptic, Ronald Binns. Yes, I confess I had to pay for a copy back in August, but I still have not got round to reading it as it constantly slips down the priority queue. I will attempt to right that once my own second book on the Loch Ness Monster comes out in late January 2018.

Having said that, 2017 was somewhat counter balanced by Andrew McGrath's "Beasts of Britain" whose cryptozoological overview of the UK did contain a chapter on the Loch Ness Monster.

In terms of visits to the loch, I was at the loch in June and September. What is still uncertain to me was the huge splash that I saw in mid loch off Foyers on the first day there in September. Was it the Loch Ness Monster? There is no way of knowing, and it remains inconclusive to this day. The usual experiments and watches were conducted with no game changing results. Unlike webcams that sweep across square miles, the narrowly focused trap cameras I have in place will hopefully yield more accurate results, albeit more exceedingly rare and devoid of blobs!

What will 2018 produce in terms of experiments? The tech market now offers mini-ROVs, thermal cameras and HD ready drones. Which one would you employ first in your search of the loch? Here's to an cryptozoologically rewarding 2018 and I wish readers a prosperous and fulfilling year ahead.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com



40 comments:

  1. A wonderful review of a standout Nessie year, Roland. I suspect that the most vociferous of sceptics are beginning to wonder if there might be something real and significant in this mystery after all.

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    1. There's something to it -- I just don't think we agree on what it is!

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    2. Hello again. Would you mind revealing what you think it is, Erik Kristopher?

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    3. It’s an incredibly deceptive place for a variety of natural reasons, all of which enhance the sociological aspect of expectant attention.

      Whether or not you believe there’s a monster in the water, there’s no denying that people are more inclined to misinterpret what they see at Loch Ness in a way they wouldn’t in other bodies of water because of the Lake monster tradition.

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    4. Of that there is no doubt, but the key aspect is whether you think that accounts for every sighting. I personally think there have been far too many, including those with multiple eyewitnesses, for the entire mystery to be summarily dismissed in this manner. A certain sceptic with his own website tries to use this method with quite humorous results in some cases.

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    5. I don’t think there is any one thing responsible for sightings, beyond the mythology itself. I feel it’s a combination of factors.

      We can’t dismiss all eyewitnesses, but it’s worth mentioning the tourist who last year took a photo she described as being a snakelike creature, when the image itself showed a boat with a sail.

      Not all eyewitnesses are unreliable, but this illustrates that many are.

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    6. Doesn't this only illustrate that the particular tourist in question was unreliable?

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    7. It illustrates the potential unreliability of eyewitness reports, period.

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    8. It illustrates that it can happen.

      Equally valid: If I were to say that a single case of verified accurate eyewitness recall was proof that many eyewitnesses at Loch Ness were accurately describing what they saw, how would you respond? There's a documentary where a psychologist shows a pipe going up and down in the water, and almost every single eyewitness describes it accurately. Only one or two embellishes their description into something more 'monsterlike'. Is this evidence that the majority of eyewitnesses at Loch Ness are accurately describing what they see?

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    9. If you can’t see the value in a photo that directly contradicts the eyewitness testimony, and how it illustrates the caution that should be exercised when regarding extraordinary claims regarding a location that generates expectant attention, then I’m afraid your bias is impairing your critical thinking.

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    10. I'm afraid that's not an adequate answer. I explained that I accept that it does sometimes happen, but I also gave you some pointers showing how the majority of eyewitnesses are accurate. You chose to ignore me and gave some vague comment about bias instead. If you're a sceptic, which I think you are, perhaps you could do a little better when constructing your arguments. A broad, dismissive stroke of your sceptical brush does not achieve what you hope it does.

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    11. At least we agree on the fact that I ignored your pointers.

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    12. Yep, unable to bash em down obviously.
      It seems to be the way of many sceptics to focus on details, then when the debate gets tough, to withdraw back to more general terms. Perhaps an overall generalisation about human psychology here, a comment about an individual's "untrustworthy nature" there. It's the sceptical method... charge in all guns blazing, then when they receive return fire they retreat and pretend they weren't after a gunfight after all.

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    13. I note that you’re attacking the skeptical argument rather than building a case for The Loch Ness Monster.

      It is neither my responsibility nor obligation to refute extraordinary claims without evidence; quite the opposite, really. If I choose to do so, I choose to do so. If not, I don’t. The ball is still in the believer’s court, and I’m still waiting for it to sail over the net.

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    14. Nothing of note has sailed over from the sceptical side of the net for many years either. You use a ball game analogy yet claim that only one side is obliged to take part.
      Believers are trying to obtain evidence. What are sceptics doing, other than patting themselves on their backs and saying they have no case to answer? If you really felt the sceptical case was watertight you wouldn't be here engaging in debate.

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    15. Asking why a Skeptic has interest in a topic he or she doesn’t believe in is a weak and ongoing tactic that spectacularly misunderstands the skeptical intent/position.

      Meanwhile, I can’t speak for anyone else; only myself. I don’t have to demolish the evidence or claims from the pro-Monster camp unless it’s strong enough to stand up to scrutiny. Right now, very little does.

      But do continue to change the subject to general terms rather than focusing on the topic at hand.

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    16. There's nothing weak about questioning your reason for persistent, long term debate on this subject. I've looked back on this site and can see you've been doing it for many years. That's a great deal of effort put into trying to debunk the Loch Ness Monster from a person who claims to have no need to disprove it. The point I was making was not that sceptics should have no interest; the point was that if the case against Nessie was so watertight sceptics would not need to keep typing in their arguments on internet pages and in books. If Nessie was so clearly false you just wouldn't feel the need to bother. I wouldn't be at all surprised if you're posting elsewhere on this subject too.

      The subject is well in hand, Erik Kristopher, I suggest you return to it. Let's see what you've got. And please don't repeat the get-out clause line about not having to make any points because it's all down to believers.

      Come on, what have you got?

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    17. I’m not sure what you’re asking for, as you’ve strayed far from my original point.

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    18. Oh well, I wasn't expecting anything anyway.

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    19. Stick to the point next time, and maybe someone will play with you.

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    20. You meandre all over the place when the going gets tough. You resort to a couple of simple cliches. I can see you've done it for years with absolutely no influence on anyone. I guess when the tank's empty that's what a chap has to do.

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  2. Yeah a few foto's in 2017 but sadly in my opinion none of them are down to large creatures!!most are debris or wakes but at least we had a few to look at! Lets hope 2018 brings a few better quality ones...we can only hope! Happy new year to all who come in here...and as my highland friends say...Lang may your lumb reek!!!! Or summit like that haha look forward to more good reads on here GB in the new year. Cheers ..Roy

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  3. Only a ‘standout’ year in the likes of Gary Campbell’s world I’m afraid.

    While it’s always great to see news from the Loch, I don’t think there’s an interesting sighting among that collection.

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    1. Speak for yourself RP, for me it was a fantastic year. Bound to reignite interest if it continues. What's needed now is an extensive 3D sonar expedition.

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    2. I’d argue to the contrary. Lame sightings do nothing to reignite interest - they undermine the subject. When Gary Campbell gives credence to Dr Knight’s sons wave picture, he’s not helping anyone.

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  4. Personally I thought all the pics from last year were weak. As GB points out most camera phones or web cameras are not good enough and the pics either look like unidentifiable blobs, inanimate objects such as branches or in some cases the pixelation makes them look fake. I'd put slightly more stock in the eye witness reports even though most refer to wakes/waves and lack identifiers such as skin or head description.

    In my opinion 2017 moved us further away from answers. Let's hope 2018 brings us closer. All the best with your new book Roland, that might be a good start.

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    1. We can all agree on that. Roland's forthcoming book will certainly inject new vigour into this wonderful subject!

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    2. I’m looking forward to grabbing a copy of Roland’s book, as well.

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  5. Thank you for the work you put into this blog and all Nessie efforts, It is great to know another book is on the way Roland. This blog is a wealth of LNM information.

    These sightings seem to me to be nothing impressive except for the Peter Jackson image. That shape is odd and not many swimmers venture to the middle of the Loch. Intriguing.

    Let's hope for some Nessie action for 2018! Keep on it Roland because if one of your cameras get a clear shot of something strange you may have been right all along.

    Something is in the Loch.

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  6. GB will have to go some to debunk the recent debunk books, in particular the very persuasive A Monstrous Commotion. However judging by GB's excellently researched blog essays and articles on the modern era of nessieology we are in for a good read.
    I am still wading through his Water Horse book, finding it heavy going to be honest, long on 1st 2nd and 3rd hand accounts of aquatic mammal malarkey but short on actual tangible evidence and explanations why instances of lochside children being abducted by milky-white water horses strangely receded when literacy, transport links and printed news media arrived in the highlands in the late 19th Century.

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    1. I don't regard Gareth's book as a sceptical tome and he certainly told me that when we met for a drink. There will be sceptics quoted with their arguments in it, but that does not make it a book with a sceptical agenda.

      As for your comment on my book, have you got to page 102?

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  7. I Suppose Gary Campbell has to promote Nessie, but tbe guy did have a genuine sighting i believe, and thats what started his inteest all off.

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    1. Gary did have a genuine sighting and now look at how it has changed his life. For anybody to see a large creature in Loch Ness with their own eyes it must be frustrating at times to know it is real. It does sound crazy, after all the years and effort, the searches, the LNIB, the submarines, the sonar, deepscan....and on and on so that the status quo has become all that Nessie is - a myth.

      Yet there is all the contrary evidence, and quite a lot of it. Imagine seeing the Loch Ness Monster and having no doubt it exists. Rines and Dinsdale saw it and look at the effect it had on them! Boyd as well.

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  8. I didn’t take it as a skeptical tome, but it wasn’t exactly concerned with promoting the mystery, either.

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    1. Yes, it was more even handed or neutral in its approach.

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  9. Good point made by Jack, I should imagine if you see something that you think is Nessie then you would know these things are alive and well, so any photographs claimed to be nessie could really be that.

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  10. SOCK PUPPET ALERT.

    I would ask “Will Soutar” to provide proof of his existence, as you did with “Huntin’ Henry,” Roland.

    Cute name, that.

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    1. Well, he may or he may not be. Plenty of folk post under pseudonyms, nothing wrong with that so long as things do not get abusive.

      Will, if you are as enthusiastic as you say you are about Nessie related matters, I suggest you join the Zombie Plesiosaur Society over on facebook and continue this discussion with Erik there.

      Go to:

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/1474466226107588/?ref=group_header

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    2. Oh and comments closed for this article.

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