Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Loch Ness Trip Report September 2018




It was back at the loch last month as I spent a few days camping and roving around the famous body of water looking for its even more famous resident. I brought the drone, the thermal camera, trap cameras and the old fashioned hand held camera and binoculars. It was also the weekend of the Loch Ness Marathon which kept me off road for most of that day. The extended weekend was a generally quiet time due to the reduced number of tourists who were all back at work and school. However, that had to be balanced against the colder, wetter conditions. So, I may well go back a few weeks earlier next year.

Sunday was drone day as I strapped the backpack on and went off in search of a suitable site. Dinsdale Island was now off limits to a wellington boot crossing as it had been during the dry spring. Waders will be required next time as I regard it as a good drone site in terms of isolation and a flat beach for safe landings. A walk around the wider area did not provide any adequate take off points and so I headed off to the location of the Lachlan Stuart photograph a few miles up the road and flew the drone there. With a nice backdrop of the castle, no Nessie outlines were discerned just below the surface, so I drew a blank (snapshot of drone video below).




On Monday it was time to don my tour guide hat as I took fellow Nessie lovers, Phil and Cathie around the loch on a tour of their design and with me as their guide. This involved various stops and chats and so we began at the spot where Peter MacNab took his famous 1955 photograph and heading onto other sites after that. Seeing we are on the subject of Peter MacNab, one sceptic declared some time back that the photo had to be a fake because the black hump didn't look glistening enough as he would expect from water splashing and running off it.




So is the photo debunked in one fell swoop? Shall we now consign it to the bin of hoax history? Not if we compare it with an old picture of the Gondolier cruise boat passing the castle in a similar setting. I think you would agree its black, water splashed hull is not giving off much in the way of lustre either. As a side note, if any sceptic tries to gainsay this elsewhere, please feel free to copy and paste their counter arguments here to be dealt with.



Stopping at the site of the famous Arthur Grant land sighting, I got my first chance to see the new plaque erected to commemorate that event at the Clansman Hotel. Fortuitously, there was a life size model of the monster there to add a sense of reality to that moonlit night of January 5th 1934 when Grant chanced upon the creature as he approached it on his motorcycle. As mentioned in a previous article, I had suggested erecting the plaque to local businessman and Nessie promoter, Willie Cameron. It seems this had always been on his mind and this was the catalyst to get it done. The words you can read on the plaque are the exact words I supplied to Willie, so I was pleased with that.


 


Onwards and as we passed through Fort Augustus and on our way to the southern shore, something was pointed out to me, or rather the absence of something. That something was Kilchumein Lodge, the residence of the Pimleys, from where their employee, Margaret Munro watched a strange creature on the shore of Borlum Bay for 30 minutes through binoculars in June 1934. All that remained was a large tanker of some description with some building materials now lying on cleared land. I recall the house being there on my last visit in June. I am sure some local will help fill in the gaps as to what happened and the site's future. Either way, a piece of Loch Ness Monster history has gone.




And here is the old house photographed seven years ago for Google Streetview.



Visiting the site of the famous Hugh Gray photograph, the site was being surveyed when an unusual object was spotted rising up and down in the water, which I show below. This was in quite deep water and could not have been a rockbed log sticking out of the water, but after a close inspection with binoculars, it was undoubtedly a large piece of tree debris with a squared off end bobbing up and down in the water. It was presumed that the log had been sufficiently saturated with water to achieve this near submerged appearance with the bulk invisible under the water. The media and forums often put up pictures of Nessie like logs as if this was some slam dunk explanation for sightings, but the truth is they are easily enough discerned after a short time.




Having said all that, the patience of this hunt of hunts was driven home again that weekend as the drone, thermal camera, trap cameras and good old fashioned eyeball watches produced no decisive evidence. So, it is time to hunker down for the winter and try again next year. Nevertheless, I hope to be back up at the loch with hopefully good news for Nessiephiles later in the year, so watch this space!


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Summing up the Loch Ness Monster (in 1934)




Decades ago, the Field magazine ran an article by Martin Hinton, Deputy Keeper of Zoology at the Natural History Museum in London on the 27th January 1934. By then, the monster phenomenon was about 8 months old and people were asking questions of those in authority. The evidence was scant with the Malcolm Irvine film taken the previous month on December 12th and the Hugh Gray photograph of November 12th along with a few dozen eyewitness testimonies. That now lost film formed the top image of the article as Hinton assessed the phenomenon from his point of view as a sceptical zoologist and is reproduced in text below with my comments following.


SUMMING - UP THE LOCH NESS MONSTER 
Facts versus Visions - An Analysis of the Evidence
By MARTIN A. C. HINTON (Deputy Keeper of Zoology, British Museum - Natural History) 

NO zoologist would deny the possibility of discovering a large creature of "prehistoric type" (whatever that may mean) hitherto unknown to Science, in vast ocean solitudes, in imperfectly explored foreign lands, or even in the limited and completely surveyed waters of Loch Ness. But for more than 200 years zoologists have been busy ransacking this world, and the chance of finding a large vertebrate animal of a type entirely new to Science living anywhere, either on the land or in the sea, grows smaller and smaller every day.

The larger animals of the North Atlantic and the North Sea are fairly well known, and the chance of making a sensational addition to the list is now small indeed. To establish such a discovery today the zoologist would be required to furnish rigid proof based upon a personal examination of at least some characteristic portion of the alleged new animal. Without such proof Science, whose first business is the collection of cold facts, could not recognise such a claim, even though supported by an infinity of eye-witness stories, photographs and alleged "spoors". With good faith all through, such substitutes for real evidence could do no more than make every scientific man very eager to go and collect satisfactory material for himself.

Bad faith showing through, here and there, would arouse his suspicion of the whole story, and would merely tend to divert him from the inquiry. We may accept the 51 eye-witnesses interrogated by Commander Gould and the score or more later witnesses who have made statements describing what they have seen of the Loch Ness "monster" as witnesses of truth; that is to say, each of them has done his best to describe without addition, subtraction or embellishment, what he thinks he saw on the loch or on its shores. Accurate observation, even of familiar stationary things on land, is a very difficult art and accurate description of the impression left by the observation is still more difficult. These difficulties are enormously enhanced when the observation concerns an unfamiliar object seen at some considerable distance in motion in the water, when light, reflections, ripple, wind and haze change from second to second.

Considerations such as these would lead us to expect many discrepancies of detail in the stories of the witnesses; so that no adverse criticism could be based upon the variable nature of their accounts. The more honest and uninstructed the witnesses the more they will differ from each other and the more difficult it will be for the zoologist to find out what it is they are all endeavouring to describe. One fact alone does emerge from this great mass of testimony, namely that for some months the loch has been inhabited by one or more large animals not usually there. Accepting the statements of two or three of the witnesses, we find that the intruder is not confined to the water but comes on shore from time to time, crossing the road, and ascending the slope beyond. One observer surprised the creature on the roadside at night nearly 40 yards ahead. "As he approached, the creature moved, turned a small head in his direction, and then with great bounds crossed the road and plunged into the water." Further. " it had . . . large oval shaped eyes set almost on top of its head . .  a big heavy body, and there were two flippers in front. It seemed also . . . to have two legs behind, and they appeared to be webbed".

From other witnesses we learn that the "monster" chases the salmon, and that it is most frequently seen round the mouths of the streams flowing into the loch or near the exit of the Ness by which the salmon enter from the sea. Several mauled salmon have been found, including at least one "kelt", important. as showing that the injuries were sustained in the loch and not on the upward run of the fish. Now all these facts, looked at broadly, are in harmony with the view that the loch has been invaded by one or more grey seals. They are common in the Dornoch Firth and by no means infrequent in the Beauly Firth. They prey upon the salmon, and probably one or more followed the salmon up the River Ness last year. Seals have been seen in the loch on previous occasions.

The river presents almost insurmountable obstacles to any large marine vertebrate other than a seal or a salmon; but to the grey seal, capable as we know of doing a journey of 30 miles over rough country, the ascent would be easy. The general description of the individual seen on land and of its progress across the road into the water, quoted above, fits the grey seal to perfection if we make allowance for an excusable overestimate of size. Great attempts have been made to lead zoologists to a more romantic conclusion. Much stress has been laid upon the supposed colossal length of the "monster", its small head, long outstretched neck, and serpentine body indicated by humps visible above the water. Each description of the swimming animal is a simple summary of the impressions made upon the mind of each observer by a longer or shorter series of continually changing images. In no one of them could we put implicit trust.

The very agreement of the more sensational stories among themselves tells against them. The observers, despite their good faith, appear to have been influenced subconsciously by three things, singly or in combination, namely, the Kelpie tradition, the sea-serpent myth, and by the picture postcards of the "monster" on sale in Inverness. The Daily Mail, with customary enterprise, sent investigators. These included a big-game hunter. who eventually found two impressions of a large foot upon the shore. Photographs and a cast of these were submitted to the museum, where the impressions were found to have been made on a heaped-up bank of fine shingle with the help of a stuffed foot of a hippopotamus. A wag had been busy - had he used a living hippopotamus the impression would have been different and the big game hunter would not have been deceived ...

Efforts were made to "film" the "monster". Some of the first pictures were reproduced in various newspapers, and two slides made from one of them were shown to the meeting of' British zoologists on January 6th. They showed nothing that could be positively identified as an animal. Although apparently not of great scientific interest, the "monster" is of considerable importance to local industries and to the great world of advertisement. In gratitude business men are asked to address it privately as "ministering angel" reserving "monster" for public occasions.

It struck me reading this sceptical article how little has changed in so called critical thinking regarding the Loch Ness Monster. Hinton (pictured below) was an older colleague of later sceptic Maurice Burton and one senses there was not much difference in their approaches thirty years apart. The one distinguishing factor was Burton's pre-occupation with vegetable mats in the 1960s.




To start with, I agree with Hinton that the real proof is a specimen, be it dead or alive and in part or whole. Nothing has changed in that regard and I have no argument with that from an empirical point of view. However, Hinton's dismissal of eyewitness testimony echoes throughout sceptical history in his successors as a piece of poor science when he asserts that they could not possibly describe what they saw in an accurate manner. 

The trouble with this theory is its unscientific unfalsifiability, to wit, no matter how numerous, how skilled or how close the observers, the testimonies go in one end of this meat grinder and come out "unreliable" with infallible certainty each time. If you would ask Mr. Hinton what eyewitness testimony would escape this tautology, I doubt you would get a clear answer. Note I am not saying each witness will deliver a perfect description, but I am saying there will be accuracy in terms of size and power which differentiates the phenomenon from Highland norms.

Having conveniently rejected all accounts with this blunderbuss approach, Hinton does acknowledge the testimony of eyewitnesses enough to admit they were indicative of the presence of one or more large animals in the loch, though not of the thirty to forty foot variety. He considers the Arthur Grant land sighting and some instances of mauled salmon and kelt to fall in favour with some itinerant grey seals. The inconvenient problems of long necks and humps are dismissed as subconscious embellishments. 

That was his summing up some eight months into the new sensation and some eight decades on, not much has changed in the modern sceptic's summing up. But that pre-war summing up has an awkward ending for Mr. Hinton when he discussed the examination of the plaster casts he and his colleagues received from Marmaduke Wetherell. They were correctly recognised as hippopotamus prints and the product of some joker, though they did not suspect Wetherell himself it seems.

Astoundingly, the hypocrisy of this assessment was later exposed when Hinton was accused after his death of being the person behind the infamous Piltdown Man hoax. Wetherell planted his fake spoors in the cause of advocating a prehistoric monster. Hinton it seems planted his fake hominid jaw, teeth, cranium and tools in the cause of advocating a 500,000 year old fossil human. You can read the defence of this accusation in this 2003 article.

It seems it is not just monster hunters who can be accused of fakery. Even those fine upstanding, critically thinking, sceptical scientists are well capable of indulging in deception. And why should we not be surprised? After all, they are just as human and fallible as the rest of us. Does this disqualify Hinton from speaking on the matter of the Loch Ness Monster? Perhaps not, but the tinkling of broken glass houses can be clearly heard.

The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com





Wednesday, 26 September 2018

A Nessie Photograph from 2015?




Here is an interesting photograph that has turned up in the media this week. The story from the Scottish Press and Journal goes as follows.

An American mother has turned up a mysterious image of Loch Ness by trawling through Google Earth shots taken three years ago. Lisa Stout’s startling discovery has now been accepted as the ninth sighting of the monster this year by the Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register – and further highlights more and more people are hunting Nessie around the world through the web. Ironically the 31-year-old from Bellevue, Ohio, has a monster – “Bessie” – on her doorstep, but has never seen it. According to Google there are 200,000 searches each month for the Loch Ness Monster.

“As a result of a recent loss of employment, I’ve had a lot of time open up. I had been searching for Nessie on/off for the past few weeks, spending an hour or so a week on Google Earth as well as other places I like to visit in the App,” said Ms Stout, a mother-of-one. “I had seen some of the latest Nessie sightings and thought that I can definitely find a better image of her than that which I used for motivation to challenge myself to find her! Last Thursday at 9.45am, I had got my daughter off to school and began to search for Nessie when I noticed a cluster of pictures taken by an Underwater Earth Contributor all in one area near the Loch Ness Highland Resort in Fort Augustus."

“I noticed what I believe may be the creature known as Nessie – or at the very least what makes up for most of the accounts of Nessie sightings that residents/ tourists are seeing and reporting.”

Ms Stout said she believes the dark figure protruding from the water is “at least three to five feet tall which I believe to be is Nessie’s neck and it also appears rather flat giving the neck a width of at least one foot.”

Gary Campbell, the recorder and keeper of the Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register said: ”This is a really unusual phenomenon and our panel can’t explain what Lisa has spotted therefore we are listing it as a sighting. However, it may be that by doing this, someone else across the world can come up with an explanation. “The great thing about it being on Google is that anyone with access to the web can go on and see exactly what Lisa has captured and then make their own mind up. This means that once again, you don’t have to come to Loch Ness to be a Nessie spotter.”

A zoom in of the object is shown below and, going by the Abbey steps to the right, I estimated the height of it as something below 3 feet and various theories as to its identity have already made their way onto cryptozoological forums:

1. A log
2. One of the Google diving team.
3. Something on the lens.
4. A "photoshop" creation.
5. A bird in flight.



The log explanation naturally leapt to mind although I find it a rather odd looking log compared to the ones I have seen at the loch or in pictures, plus it looks rather dark for a log unless there is strong sunlight to the left which I doubt considering the rain which appears to be impacting on the loch surface. However, nothing else is as black as this object in the picture. Nevertheless, such a theory cannot be totally discounted.

The opinion that it is a diver requires further explanation, namely what part of a proposed diver are we looking at? That is not clear to me. However, a diver's suit may have been as dark as this object. A piece of debris on the lens seems a big coincidence as the object is lying very nicely aligned with the water surface. Photoshop also seems unlikely as I went to the Google Maps website to retrieve the original image.

The bird in flight suggestion has some more merit if one imagines the "neck" is the right wing of the bird and the "body" in the water line is the left wing. In this scenario one would assume the head and neck of the bird are obscured by the right wing. The left wing looks a bit thin and I see no tail feathers, but the idea has more merit than most so far.

Or it could be the Loch Ness Monster, but that begs the question as to why the crew did not see anything at the time? At least, we are never told they did, but if they did I would expect something more than this. That aside, the neck length to width ratio is a bit lower than I would usually expect for the neck morphology. that is, it is a bit on the thick side. I wouldn't want to dogmatic on such a ratio though.

All in all, a curious picture which doesn't quite bow down to any one explanation.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com


Saturday, 15 September 2018

Latest Nessie Photograph





An interesting image from Loch Ness was published by the Sun newspaper today purporting to show the Loch Ness Monster in its single hump aspect taken by a Dipak Ram from Manchester last week. The account runs as follows:

Dipak Ram, an NHS consultant from Manchester, took the image that shows a large dark “mass” in the waves of the legendary loch last week. The 33-year-old spotted the dark shadow in the water near Dores beach at 5.35pm. The medic at first believed it was a strange wave pattern but insists that when he zoomed in with his camera he found a “stationary object”. Dipak, who says the sighting was witnessed by a fellow tourist, claims that this was “Nessie’s hump or neck” and says it disappeared below the surface after 30-35 seconds.

Speaking today, the NHS doctor who works across Greater Manchester, said: “We have had a breathtaking experience of spotting Nessie and were very lucky indeed.“We noticed a dark shadow in the water which we initially thought was just a wave but the shadow remained persistent for about 30-35 seconds with water moving around it. “It was cloudy without any rain but the waves were reasonably calm and we took the picture from the rocky aspect of Dores beach.”

“When I zoomed in using my camera phone, it became much more apparent that the stationary object was indeed Nessie’s hump/long neck. “After 30-35 seconds, the shadow disappeared downwards into the water. Unfortunately, we didn’t film it as we were in shock.” Dipak named the witness as Tom Smith, a “fellow traveller” from Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester, but says he does not have contact details for him.





Now if you read Mr. Ram's account, he is convinced it was no wave as it remained stationary in the midst of the water movement around it. Of course, this cannot be established from one image and it is clear he regrets not putting his camera into video mode. I would accept his testimony in the absence of contrary testimony (e..g how corroborative would Mr. Smith's account be?), but more critical assessors will ignore his words and make a judgement based purely on the merits of the image. I would point out the "hump" is more water blue that monster black or gray, but that may be my imagination.

Not only would a video have been useful to establish its independence from the waves, but also to record the submergence moment to further verify its independent existence from the water. Another useful image would have been a pan out to the Dores Bay shoreline to give an idea of how far in or out the image was (not a log in the shallows). Information is everything and the more we have, the more confident the conclusions and the less chance of fob offs. So we have one image, perhaps there are others, but there is not enough to go on with here unless anyone has any other observations or information.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com








Saturday, 8 September 2018

A Question on the Roy Johnston Photos




Roy Johnston took a sequence of eight photographs purporting to be of the Loch Ness Monster in the act of submerging back in August 2002. Naturally, the reaction to the pictures was mixed but they were generally dismissed by those who examined them. Sixteen years later I plan to cover these pictures in one chapter of my forthcoming book on the monster. For the time being, I will assume a neutral position and be a listener as others possibly express their opinions but also perhaps offer data on the event.

To that end, I have a request asking if anyone has the article on these pictures from the News Of The World newspaper dated Sunday 8th September 2002? An enquiry to the British Library suggests it only made it into the Scottish edition and so far I have not found it. I do remember reading the article years back but cannot recall the source now so any help will be appreciated. I am aware of the arguments made by leading researchers and these will be considered in the book as well.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

A Diver's Encounter with the Monster




A regular on various cryptozoological blogs and forums told me this tale which she had related before to others. It was a friend of the family whose name she cannot remember and the story suggests the event perhaps happened during the Second World War. This is what she told me concerning the tale of a diver friend:

He had a facial disfigurement when his plane was shot down and after convalescence he was visited and offered a desk job, which was not him at all. They noticed diving certificates from when he was younger on his wall and suggested that was the way to go. So he did and one of his jobs was to dive under at Loch Ness. He told me when I was six. He took a job with the Pru when older and told me because I was looking at my kids encyclopaedia at the time and he'd come to collect mum's money on her insurance.

He told me casually about his encounter as I was looking at a dino picture at the time. He said he was told to go down beside a wall and had lights with him. He said while he was working he noticed something was moving above him. Thinking it was the boat he'd dived from he looked up and his goggles were filled with something just above his head, he realised it was a huge animal. He said he froze and waited for it to move again and when it floated on, he started to surface as fast as he could shining a light downwards to see what it was.

He said he saw the Loch Ness Monster, the classic plesiosaur shape was described and how it moved with his hand, which I can remember. He was a quiet religious man who never drew attention to himself, especially because of how he looked he preferred to melt into the background. He was very sincere with what he told, so I have no reason to disbelieve what he told me and for him, I would like to see whatever it is discovered.

So concludes a story we can add to the experiences of Robert Badger, James Honeyman, Duncan MacDonald, Beppo the Clown (see Badger case) and doubtless a few others as well. It is the rarest of Nessie encounters and I would wager the most unsettling when one considers you are in the monster's domain with little avenue for escape (though no casualties have ever been disclosed).

Actually, when I read the story and how the diver had gone "down beside a wall", I wondered if he was part of the diving team that were involved in the search for the body of Mrs. Hambro, who drowned in an accident at Loch Ness in 1932? I thought the wall could be the sheer drop that occurs at the Horseshoe Scree, where the accident happened. However, this event seems to have happened in the 1940s and was perhaps training at the loch for wartime operations. Did he report the event to his superiors or keep it to himself? An FOI request on wartime operations at Loch Ness would be an interesting exercise, though perhaps ultimately unfruitful.

It was also mentioned that her diver friend said the closest picture he had seen to it was a sea monster called a "Tomberino" or something like that. Off the top of my head, I don't know what that may refer to, but if anyone knows, leave a comment here. 

 

The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com




Friday, 24 August 2018

The "Legend of the Loch" BBC Documentary





I wrote a while back on the various productions made by the BBC over the years that referenced the Loch Ness Monster. Without a doubt the one I would most like to see is their 1958 documentary, "The Legend of the Loch" which was hosted by that famous BBC presenter Raymond Baxter of "Tomorrow's World" fame. I believe they still have it in their vast warehouse, but the BBC Archive is not exactly like Netflix or any other modern VOD service.

As it turns out a copy of the Radio Times dated the 9th May 1958 came up on eBay with a picture of one page promoting that documentary. I certainly recall Lachlan Stuart was interviewed on it, but who else I do not know, though I imagine Nessie expert of the time, Maurice Burton would have appeared. This was in the days before Tim Dinsdale's film and everything was pretty quiet. What prompted the BBC to make this programme may well have been inspired by the photographs taken by Lachlan Stuart, Peter Macnab and Herman Cockrell in that decade. The page and text are reprodcued below.






In Search of the Loch Ness Monster
BBC Television will pay a visit to the Loch on Thursday for a Scientific Investigation
 

TWENTY-FIVE years ago, on May 22, 1933, the Loch Ness Monster hit the headlines. Before then its existence had been an accepted fact in the area for many years, and legends of a "water horse " had been handed down for centuries. Since then many reputable people from Britain, and tourists from America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere have claimed to have seen a strange creature on the surface of this loch. Some of these sightings can probably be accounted for by unusual wave formations, water-fowl chicks learning to fly, otters playing and other ordinary events. Some can not. If the people have seen and heard what they have claimed, then some large creature (or creatures) of a species or size at present unknown to science lives in this extremely deep loch.

Many theories about its identity have been advanced. Some people think that from the descriptions it is a plesiosaurus, but this beast is thought to have become extinct about seventy million years ago. Some think it is a giant eel or form of oar-fish. Some think the whole thing a hoax or a hallucination. What is the truth? Recently people in Inverness have been pressing for a thorough scientific investigation into the subject and the matter has been raised in the House of Commons. They argue that it is no use relying on chance photographs or film of the beast on the rare occasions when the loch is still enough for these to be taken. They point out that the photographic evidence which already exists is looked upon with great suspicion anyway. They claim that underwater television and echo-sounding equipment are the keys to the problem.

The aim of Thursday evening's programme, The Legend of the Loch, is not to "Hunt the Monster" but to find out how far modem equipment can, in fact, penetrate the secrets of a loch some twenty-three miles long, the maximum depth of which is 754 feet, the water of which, stained brown by peat, is only penetrated by the sun's rays to a depth of forty feet, and the banks of which are reported by divers to contain great caves. On Thursday, after a review of the facts concerning the mystery and an air survey of the loch and surrounding countryside, viewers can come under water with BBC television, hear from a frogman, and see what it like to go down into these black depths.
 



The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Loch Ness Monster Sighting Last Week?




I was messaged by a resident local to Loch Ness with a possible sighting made only last week on Wednesday August 16th at about 2pm.  The location was the woodlands walk behind the Dores beach and although the witness reckons the creature was forty feet from the shore, they were no less than 100 metres from the beach. The creature was also witnessed by a friend who was visiting at the time.  The local began telling me about their encounter:


Whilst walking along the woodland behind Dores beach myself and a friend witnessed movement in the water which seemed sizeable, as we walked further away and stood looking down towards the Loch from the woodland path we were shocked to see an angled head come out of the water, nether of us could believe what we saw. It was the wrong shape for a seal, dolphin or otter. I would say the head was dolphin in size .... That's a big eel! I live locally ... and I'm a very practical person, down to earth. I can't explain what I saw. ... For about 7 minutes prior to seeing the shape out of the water we saw movement and what could have been a dolphin or something surfacing but then when there was a long neck I couldn't believe my eyes to be honest.
 

Piqued by these initial statements, I asked for further details as regards the appearance of the creature, but they were too far away to see any detail, it was just a dark but not black shape that came out of the water and submerged again after a few seconds as it "sort of sunk down slowly but moved forward at the same time". I asked for a sketch of what they saw and got the picture you see above.

Things got more interesting when I acquired further information from the second witness who saw the creature for longer and confirmed the neck was longer than that of a seal. The second witness thought the neck was slimmer, was not a seal and the head was more "bent over". In their words:

The head came up and then went back under water. It was a very dark grey then I saw like a big snake figure swimming. Definitely not a seal as head was bent over and neck was very long and thin.



The second witness' sketch is shown below. There are some differences as witness sketches are never exactly the same but I think this is also down to at what point in the creature's motion they placed their drawings.




Now in assessing this report, one may ask if a seal was encountered here? There are two species of seal that occasionally get into Loch Ness and those are the harbor or common seal and the grey seal. Two things that dictate against a seal is the way it moved forward while sinking slowly. This is behaviour that sounds distinctly unseal like. Secondly, the muzzle described looks too elongated for a common seal but there is a question mark over the grey seal. The first picture is of a common seal while the next is of a grey seal.






I sent pictures of these two seals to the first witness who thought the gray seal was a possibility. However, the second witness' sketch would appear to exclude seals altogether and especially the form they saw just under the surface. Now if one pursued the seal interpretation further the obvious question to ask is whether anyone has seen seals in the loch recently. I have been asking questions on forums and emailing those who use the waters in that area who may know and the best I have so far is a possible seal seen in Dochfour loch in May about three months ago.

What I do not want to do is invoke the seal explanation in a knee jerk manner without some attempt to actually verify if anyone else has seen one. After all, seals are not indigenous to Loch Ness. They are in the loch far less often than they are not and so should not be used as an explanation in such a lazy manner. 

Having said all this, the witness requests anonymity for the all too common reason that "I haven't told anyone else because I don't want to look stupid." which is a reason I can sympathise with given the way eyewitness reports are treated by people. I would rather let the eyewitness speak for themselves rather than them being told what to believe.

So, is this the famous Loch Ness Monster or just a seal? I will keep an eye out for any genuine seal reports but even as I was typing up this report another sighting report just two days later on the Friday was published by the Sun newspaper today with a photograph taken by twelve year old Charlotte Robinson near Invermoriston. That picture is shown below and bears some resemblance to the eyewitness sketches. I am now wondering if she snapped the very same creature our witnesses saw two day before further up the loch?




Let us see if further images and reports are forthcoming and I thank the witnesses for coming forward and adding to the mystery of this week. Now isn't this more interesting than fruitless discussions over distant waves?



The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com


Monday, 20 August 2018

The Loch Ness Kelpie in 1856

That age old denizen of the murky Loch Ness waters surfaced again in the newspapers of old as found in the Nairnshire Telegraph of the 13th August 1856. The Loch Ness Kelpie or Each Uisge as the Loch Ness Monster was known back then got a mention as our Victorian correspondent of 162 years ago (and 77 years before the Nessie era) exalted the progress of the Highlanders as the age of steam and progress marched on through the lands of Northern Britain. 

I say Northern Britain as that was a name favoured for Scotland by English people after the summary defeat of the Jacobites in 1745. That man of literature and anti-Jacobite, Samuel Johnson receives a mention as his famous tour of the Highlands with Boswell receives some short shrift as the correspondent wonders how Johnson would react to the modern Glasgow steamers upon Loch Ness and muses that he may mistake them for the Loch Ness Kelpie! Johnson had recounted the tale of the Water Horse of Raasay, though he made no mention of any similar entity in Loch Ness. 



Here is Johnson's tale to complete the picture.

He [their guide] said, there was a wild beast in [Loch na Mna], a sea-horse, which came and devoured a man’s daughter; upon which the man lighted a great fire, and had a sow roasted on it, the smell of which attracted the monster. In the fire was put a spit. The man lay concealed behind a low wall of loose stones, which extended from the fire over the summit of the hill, till it reached the side of the loch. The monster came, and the man with a red hot spit destroyed it. Malcolm (the guide) showed me the little hiding place, and the row of stones. He did not laugh when he told me this story.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Diving with the Pisces Submarine (1969 article)

I am currently busy with my next Loch Ness Monster book, so blog postings have been a bit less frequent. But it is time to delve into the archives and surface with one of those interesting articles that I occasionally encounter during my searches at virtual and real libraries. This article from Diver Magazine of September to October 1969 details an excursion into the depths of Loch Ness with the Vickers Pisces submarine. We know about Dan Taylor's yellow Viperfish, but the Pisces was also there at the loch during those busy year of 1969. Readers may wish to speculate on what they struck during the dive and those interesting craters and I refer them to this previous article.




(Pisces on the surface of the Loch, with a diver securing the lifting tackle. The author in the pilot's position.)

IN THE MONSTER'S LAIR

Arthur Bourne, chairman of the Exploration Group of the Ocean Resources Conservation Association, describes his journeying into the depths of Loch Ness in the Vickers' submersible, Pisces. The monster did not appear, but a mystery did develop.

The veil of mystery that has covered Loch Ness is beginning to lift. The Loch which is part of that great Caledonian fault which effectively divides Scotland into two and gives that characteristic shape to the Highlands has for a long time remained something of an enigma. It has been variously described as bottomless, having deep holes connecting with the sea, and even of being so deep that there is air at the bottom in which people are living in the sort of "Brigadoon" world. If we ignore the persistent belief in a somewhat ambiguous monster and the current burst of enthusiasm for Loch Ness monster hunting, there has been little attempt to get to grips with its mysteries.

Apart from some echo soundings and sporadic sampling of the Loch bottom with grabs, little has been done to explore its depths and to see what is down there. The fortunate choice of the Loch by Vickers Oceanics as the site for the demonstration trials of their submersible Vickers-Pisces has enabled some information on the structure and contents of the Loch to be built up. In fact, Pisces has proved beyond any doubt the point that there is no substitute for man when it comes to exploring the bottom of the sea or as in this case the bottom of a deep Loch. The automation leaves much to be desired. The bottom of the Loch seems to be generally covered with a deep layer of extremely fine sediment. So fine is it that when the skids of the sub touch it they plough in, and it billows up obscuring the view from the ports.

The tiny particles of matter reflect the light from the two 1000 watt quartz iodine lamps. In the area we examined the undisturbed sediment covered what appeared to be a wide level plain with very clear ripple marks on its surface, not unlike the sand at the ocean's edge, the difference being that this was at 800 ft and in fresh water. As one would expect there is very little life at this depth. However we did see some very small white eels, and one of the members of the crew during a previous dive had seen an odd little creature seemingly jetting itself along the bottom.

A great many more dives will need to be made and a systematic bottom survey carried out to get any real picture of the Loch's bed, but at around £1000 per day this is not likely to happen just yet. Another feature of this plain is a number of horseshoe-like craters. the walls of which were quite high. The sediment covered what could be described as the leeside with gentle slopes; those on the "windward" as expected were steep. This and the ripple marks quite clearly indicate a current of sorts at this depth and a moment with the motors switched off soon verified this observation, because the machine would slew round and drift broadside on to the current — at about two knots.

During one excursion we examined one of the horseshoe craters. We entered the open end and examined the walls of sediment that surrounded us. Then we attempted to raise ourselves gradually over the lip. It was higher than we thought, we kept hitting it and disturbing the sediment each time. We explored its contours and then when the echo sounder was registering 10 ft of clear water beneath the craft, we hit something, with a resounding crash, that reverberated through the sphere. It seemed as if we had hit a metal object. Carefully the sub was manoeuvred so that we could examine the water just below us, but we could find nothing. I thought that we had hit the lip of the crater and the arm had gone through the sediment (which for some reason was not picked up by the sonar) and hit the rocky ridge which, presumably, these craters must have.

Later, on the surface, we found in the working parts of the arm pieces of shattered sedimentary rock similar to sandstone which are now being examined by geologists. This does not explain why we registered clear water beneath us and the peculiar nature of the sound. When you hit rock you know it for the dull thud it gives, but this was a definite metallic crash. Not only did the sonar register nothing beneath or around us, but we could not see anything either, even with very careful manoeuvring and using our high-powered lights. We could have picked up the sandstone when we ploughed through the sediment earlier. We will probably never know what we hit. Throughout all the trials this was the only time that Pisces struck with anything like this kind of force.

Other crews have reported something hitting the vessel during previous dives which couldn't be explained. It is not impossible that tree trunks floating at great depths may be encountered and be sucked towards and bump into a craft during its descent. In fact tree trunks were found on the bottom. But it must be admitted that they couldn't have caused the jolt that we experienced. Loch Ness like other lochs, lakes and even the seabed seems to have been used as a dumping ground for anyone's unwanted rubbish from old Morris engines to muskets of the '45. Also there was a wreck of an old sailing collier with its mast still standing. Like most lochs this one does not have a great deal of life in it. It is far too deep and with too small a surface area, though there are fish and plankton in the surface waters.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com

But beyond 15 to 20 feet, where there is no light, very few fish are encountered and the very few bottom living eels described above would hardly provide enough food for any reasonable sized animal. Even a filer feeding mammal like a whale, or a fish like the basking shark could not live for long on the plankton of Loch Ness. A fish-eating mammal, reptile or fish of the size generally credited to the Loch Ness monster would soon find itself out of business. The dives of Pisces have proved that the submarine is capable of very neatly controlled movements and is able with its hydraulic arm to pick up specimens from the Loch bed. It is ideally suited for explorations of this sort. Its two 3hp motors are more than adequate to cope with bottom currents of up to 3 knots, while at the same time giving the pilot a high degree of manoeuvrability.

The buoyancy and trim controls are also very sensitive, in fact one tends to fly this machine rather than drive it. It is beautifully designed for hovering lust above the bottom, especially when one is trying to examine a rock structure or some other object. In this position one can use the hydraulic arm to lift a rock, examine some debris or with a suitable sampler to take specimens of sediment. The total impression that one gets when riding in this machine is of complete safety and freedom. This is a very unusual quality in a submersible. Particularly those in which the crew's quarters are housed in a steel sphere as they are in Pisces.

Here, any scientist, even if he hasn't been in a submersible before, can feel quite relaxed and thereby concentrate his efforts on recording his observations and carrying out his experiments. My own explorations, short though they were, were carried out with this complete feeling of security which was engendered by my faith in the machine and confidence in my companions. Vickers have a very highly trained unit comprising pilots, observers, engineers and divers. And equipped with these machines they will be able to perform almost any task at continental shelf depths and even beyond. 

Friday, 3 August 2018

Tricks of the Sceptics





This blog has been running now for eight years and published over 600 items in that time. During that period I would like to think I have gotten a good handle on the debating tactics of that class of Nessie naysayers commonly known as "sceptics". Quite likely you will hear them before you see them as they loudly go forth proclaiming the inerrancy of their ways and the perfections of their thoughts.

Like a crowd of wannabe Spocks they practise the raising of the right eyebrow and the parting of the fingers, but they have no desire that your monster theories will live long and prosper. I long ago grew used to this logical posturing and the shallowness of much of their argumentation. Today I would like to present to you some of the tactics they use in the pursuit of doing whatever it takes to rid themselves and the world of these meddlesome monsters.
  
1. Eyewitness accounts useless ... unless they support pet theories

You've heard it many a time from sceptics, eyewitnesses are poor "recording devices". Not only do the fail to perceive what they are seeing at the time, but are pathetic at recalling the details later on. Well, that is unless what they describe supports your agenda, in which case the clouds of poor memory suddenly depart. The perception of the eyewitnesses becomes lucid and their descriptions are now as sharp as a tack.

This duplicity came to my attention when the matter of the sturgeon came to the fore. Instead of the usual rejection of certain eyewitness reports, a number of reports were deemed accurate to support the sturgeon theory; namely K.MacDonald(1932), J.McLeod(c.1900s), and M.MacDonald(1993). Go to this link and search for "sturgeon". Adrian Shine admitted that "anyone, of course, can assemble sighting reports to support a pet theory", so why bother with this? All that being said, I take this as a positive as the sceptics are admitting witnesses can accurately describe what they are seeing. 


2. Devise unfalsifiable theories

The obvious one being "If it is not a misidentification, then it is a hoax" allied with "If it is not a hoax, then it is a misidentification". A piece of circular reasoning specifically devised to exclude genuine monster reports.


3. Cherry picking accepted theories

In other words, promote only those theories which advance your agenda. This even includes parts of theories such as the false memory theory but ignoring the inconvenient theory that dramatic events stay longer in the memory.


4. Devise explanations to explain reports without testing

 A common tactic wherein sceptics put forward seemingly plausible explanations as to how a witness was wrong, but they never actually test if it is a viable explanation in the field. Of course, not every theory can be tested, but the sceptics are quite happy with that arrangement.


5. A lazy over reliance on the "least fantastical" approach to theorising

This is the "improbable" versus "impossible" theories and is a straw man argument. You construct an albeit unlikely scenario but use common everyday objects to soften the implausibility. This is then propped up against a monster theory and the audience is deceptively asked "which one looks more likely to you?". An example would be, "What is more likely to you? A line of otters in a heat haze or a plesiosaur crossing the road?". The correct answer from a neutral or sceptical audience should be "The first, but both look unlikely, so we are no further forward."


6. Objectification of subjective data

Sceptics often berate believers for going over monster pictures with a fine toothcomb for minor details that are at best inconclusive and at worst wishful thinking. However, sceptics are guilty of this when we are assuredly told that there are wires present in the Surgeon's photograph, a canoe's rudder point in the O'Connor photograph and a forward wake in the MacNab photograph. Like the believers they put down, they are merely seeing what their confirmation bias wishes them to see!

7. Inconsistency in accepting eyewitness testimony that suits their agenda

Eyewitnesses to monster sightings are categorised as inadequate (unless it involves sturgeons) but people who come forward to offer juicy information to debunk sightings are star witnesses who cannot possibly be wrong. In this list we include Richard Frere who claimed to have information to debunk the Lachlan Stuart photograph and likewise Alec Menzies on Arthur Grant. One is not inclined to judge whether these people lied or misinterpreted an event, but the sceptics make no attempt to assess the weight of their testimonies. 


8. Ad Hominem tactics 

A somewhat baser form of tactic which gets personal. For instance, I heard one sceptic state that eyewitness testimonies from anyone at Fort Augustus Abbey should be discounted in the light of the recent child abuse scandal there. Not much logic there I am afraid. Also, we are told to discount Arthur Grant's testimony because known faker Marmaduke Wetherell visited the site while he was at Loch Ness. The old "guilt by association" tactic. Finally, the monks get it in the neck again when some of their eyewitness testimonies should be discarded because "they like their whisky". Yeah, sure.


9. Overuse of tentative or false theories

Be it discredited theories such as vegetable mats, earthquakes or uncatchable sturgeon, some theories just seem to go on well past their sell by dates. But f they deflect attention away from inconvenient monsters, what's not to like?


10. Mistakes in use of eyewitness reports

The classic here was Ronald Binns' conflation of the Margaret Munro and Torquil MacLeod land sightings. The intended or unintended synthesis of these two accounts resulted in inconsistencies which Binns then exploited to discredit the MacLeod account. I am not making this up, folks! 


11. The psychological use of hyperbolic language 

Or to use an old phrase, "Argument weak here, shout louder!". Do you want your faltering arguments to carry more weight with your audience? Simple, just attach such words as "damning", "amazing" or "very telling" to arguments which are nothing of the sort. This one comes straight out of the politician's playbook.

12. Deflection

You may have noticed when debating a sceptic that the topic under discussion actually has nothing to do with the original question. This is called deflection and usually involves the sceptic going off as a tangent so long as the direction is away from the original awkward question. Another tactic taken from the politician's playbook.

So there you have it. No doubt Mr. Spock would have replied "Fascinating!". The next time a sceptic beams down and starts pontificating to you on the matter of lake cryptids, get out this list and check how many of these tricks they are trying to pull off. Perhaps we should start an annual award for the worst offender. We could call it the Cryptozoological BS Award, where of course BS stands for Bogus Spocks.

13. The "holistic" approach

A tactic whereby a clutch of minor arguments are made against a case, which though each one in and of itself would not be important enough,  the sum of the parts is meant to give the impression that it is greater than the whole. This tactic has been used by Maurice Burton on the O'Connor picture and another on the Roy Johnston pictures.




The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com



Should Inverness Airport be renamed Inverness Loch Ness Airport?




Cast your vote at this link! Twitter poll closes today.




Saturday, 28 July 2018

Nessieland up for Sale




Do you fancy owning your own Loch Ness Monster exhibition at Loch Ness? Then your chance has finally arrived as the Nessieland exhibition in the village of Drumnadrochit goes up for sale. Details of the sale are available here

I have only visited the exhibition a few times over the years I have been at the loch, but on my last visit there had been a revamp and I posted my thoughts on it in a previous article. Of course, any prospective buyer has to take into account the fact that there is a competing exhibition about 100 yards up the road which has resulted in friction between the two as they both compete for the tourists pounds.

That competing exhibition is the Loch Ness Centre and the friction was evident in the charging of Nessieland's owner, Donald Skinner, over the theft of a Loch Ness Centre sign back in 2013. This followed a lawsuit some years before when the Loch Ness Centre owner, Robbie Bremner, sued over the names of the two centres.

The Loch Ness Centre was called "The Official Loch Ness Monster Exhibition" whilst Nessieland was called "The Original Loch Ness Monster Exhibition Centre". This proximity in naming led Bremner to claim he was losing over a £1 million in revenues. The outcome was both centres agreeing to change their names to "Nessieland" and "The Loch Ness Centre".

My own thought was that the "Loch Ness Centre" suited sceptics better as it really did not have much for those who believed in the Loch Ness Monster (though an eyewitness testimony section has improved that). The "Nessieland" exhibition would suit monster believers more, though it was more family and kid oriented rather than dedicated to serious researchers.

So, in terms of balance, two exhibition centres would be best, but there is no need for them to be 100 yards apart as the history shows. I did think one in Fort Augustus would be better, though where to site it is is not clear to me and the town did have two exhibitions in decades past which have now closed down. Has the time come for another one?

There was chat about a community buyout of Nessieland, though that seems to imply a total revamp of the building into something more for the benefit of the locals than tourists. The trouble is Donald Skinner will be looking for a price which assumes it continues as a Nessie attraction with the commensurate revenues. Whether a community buyout can bypass that problem, I do not know.

Watch this space, I guess, but I am sure the Loch Ness Centre would want to see the end of the place, the end of a competing exhibition and therefore more tourist pounds coming their way. That is of course no surprise. Business owners are all for competition and free enterprise except when it comes to their own business, whatever the sector!

For me, the idea of a pro-monster exhibition is a must for the area. If Nessieland goes, the space needs to be filled and not left to an exhibition that has no belief in the thing that attracts people to the area in the first place. A pro-monster exhibition, properly done, could attract more visitors, especially if the recent idea of erecting sightings plaques around the loch takes off.

A brief history of exhibitions around the loch can be found here.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com








Saturday, 21 July 2018

A Follow up to the Aircraft Monster Film




The mystery concerning the film taken of a possible large creature in Loch Ness has been solved. It was indeed taken in September 1981 by explorer Sydney Wignall but at Loch Morar and not Loch Ness. Here is a newspaper clipping from the Daily Star of February 5th 1982.


PRINCE Charles has joined the great Scottish monster hunt. He has asked to see a film made last year that is said to "prove conclusively" that there are monsters in some Scottish lochs. And monster-hunter Sidney Wignall said last night: "By the time he's finished watching It, the Prince will no longer be in any doubt that these creatures are real and not just a figment of people's imagination."

Sidney. 59, shot the seven-minute cine film from a powered hang glider last September at Loch Morar in the Western Highlands. He claims it shows Morag, a relative of the Loch Ness Monster. "Part of the film shows two creatures leaving wakes behind them In the otherwise still water." he said. "Another part shows a 1,000 yard wake similar to a torpedo's.

"But the most frightening bit shows a creature - or something - lying perfectly still at the side or the loch. "Whenever I get to that bit, my hair stands on end - and I'm sure it will do the same to the Prince."

Sidney. of Old Colwyn, North Wales. has spent £4,000 on his hunt for the monsters, and he has sent several reports on his activities to Prince Charles. The film, which was shot over a period of five weeks, will be rushed to the Prince as soon as it is returned from Japan, where it is being studied at the moment.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said last night: "The Prince has said he is interested in seeing the film. But no date has been fixed yet. "I don't want to say too much - or well be deluged with Loch Ness monster things from now on."

However, this was not how I found the provenance of this film. A visit to the library to examine multitudes of online newspapers failed and no mention appeared in any crytpid book I perused. Then I thought to consult Rip Hepple's newsletter for 1981 and the answer was soon forthcoming as Rip wrote about watching the cine film himself on the ITN news in early November 1981. Since I carry that newsletter on this very blog in the Rip Hepple Nessletter archive, the answer was under my very nose in Nessletter No.49 which I would have read back then, but completely forgotten.




Sydney Wignall (above) was an explorer who undertook aerial surveys of the lochs reputed to have large unknown creatures and passed over Loch Morar as one of them. The main part of Rip's description is:

The piece of film was shown, and while it was very short it was most impressive. It was not stated which stretch of water it was, but from the glimpse of shoreline we had it did not seem to be Loch Ness. I thought it may have been one of the tree covered islands at Loch Morar, the very clear water seemed to support this. But what was on the film? It was as close as anyone could wish, to being a silhouette of a plesiosaur.

There was no real scale to judge size, but taking the small waves on the surface as a guide I would say the animal was some 25 to 30 feet long. The dark shape showed a fairly long pointed tail, it thickened considerably where it joined the body, which was oval shaped and had three flippers, that we could see, two rear and one front. Presumably there was a fourth one we could not see. The neck was long but not very long, thick at the base narrowing towards the head, which was distinct from the neck.

The animal was close to the surface and twisting to one side, showing movement as the aircraft passed over. The flippers were pointed, definately diamond shaped, in fact just what you would expect of Nessiteras Rhombopteryx, or perhaps Morariteras. Strangely this novel idea and the results it produced did not receive a mention in the press, also there seems to have been no follow up.


You can view a scan of the original page 1 here. Rip contacted Sidney and got a reply published in Nessletter 50 (Feb 1982). Sidney told him it was to be shown on the BBC children's programme, Blue Peter on Monday February 22nd (as one person has already said here). It was not an RAF helicopter but a four seater Rallye low wing monoplane fitted with floats (below) and he further spoke on how to get closer to such animals. There was another communication in Nessletter 51 (Apr 1982) in which Sidney laid out some plans for another expedition in 1982 as well as more about his previous work as well as a surface sighting at Loch Morar.



A fuller account was given by Wignall himself to the now defunct Pursuit Newsletter dated Second Quarter 1982:
In late September, overflying Morar, we saw something very strange lying on the loch bed in about three meters of water in an area we had covered a few days before and which on the earlier occasion showed nothing unusual. The "thing" appeared to be about six meters in length and had what could be fins or paddles, but not the four I expected to see. (I was being subjective and not objective, hoping to see a plesiosaur.) A cine-record was made from heights of between 500 and 200 feet.

A low pass at 50 feet nearly put us into the water when we hit a "sink" area. Climbing away, I took several still monochrome photographs. Then I saw about 30 meters away from the "thing," another "thing." Only this time, Thing No. 2 was most definitely moving slowly, about a meter under the surface. I managed one 35mm still frame of it, then it descended into deeper water, out of sight. A polarizing filter had almost completely eliminated surface glare.

It could not counteract the small surface chop that distorted the resulting photographic image, which appeared to be of an object 7 to 8 meters long, moving to the northwest at possibly one or two knots. It appeared to have a neck and a tail but only two fins could be seen, and these were on either side just forward of amidships. I managed only one dive in the area after that, and in one bay I came across a log which did not appear to relate either to Thing No.1 or Thing No.2. What had I seen? I very much doubt if No.1 was an animate object. Its shape wasn't quite right. No.2 was the real thing, but what it is I cannot say, if a plesiosaur, why not four fins? If a zeuglodon, wasn't the neck too long?

However, no further communications were received by Rip and I saw no further mention of Mr. Wignall in the next four years of Nessletters. One presumes they either did not take place or nothing of note happened. And so the entire mattered faded into obscurity until this week.

Sidney Wignall died in 2012 after leading a life of adventure. Now I know what you are asking - where is the film now and I suspect a familiar feeling of deja vu will roll over you when I tell you I don't know. Yes, it appears to have gone down the same plughole as the Irvine, Fraser, Taylor, LNIB and Beckjord films. Unlike some of these films, I don't even have a still image. That is not to imply that all these films are genuine cryptid films, but researchers will not get the chance to analyse them and come to any form of conclusion.

Neither does it imply this and other films are destroyed and gone for good. I suspect the film is lying around somewhere, forgotten and unloved. The resolution may yet lie with Wignall's next of kin or some Google warrior who uncovers some footage online.

What did Sydney Wignall see? Rip Hepple classed it as an impressive piece of footage though Wignall was not entirely convinced one of the objects was animate. However, his quotes in the Daily Star article are more bullish concerning it being two creatures. Will we ever have the chance to make that assessment ourselves? Well, I will see how far I can get with this.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com