Thursday, 27 January 2022

The Richard Jenkyns Sighting

What Richard Jenkyns saw on a windy morning just under fifty years has become one of the classic Loch Ness Monster sightings, appearing in various of the top books of the time. Let us start with the account of Richard Jenkyns' sighting taken from Rip's Nessletter number 3 dated May 1974 (No.3):

I can now include the very good sighting had by Mr. Richard Jenkyns from the shoreline of his property at 'Point Clair'. 

The date was Saturday November 10th and the time 1145 approx. The weather was stormy with a strong wind blowing from the N.W. but in spite of this quite large rollers were coming in to the shore, say 18 inches to 2ft in height but they were not in the form of white horses or breakers. My site was a small clearing in the woodland about 20 yards from the shore and about 20 ft above the level of the loch, I was starting a reluctant tractor and in order to do this, it had been found necessary to remove the silencer, the tractor started with a roar, much black smoke etc. and almost immediately afterwards I heard a very large splash as if someone had gone in from the high board very flat and all this over the noise of the gale rushing through the bushes and the tractor.

I got off the tractor and went to look at the loch but could see nothing so after a few moments returned to the tractor, I then took a further glance and saw a ring of concentric expanding ripples in the waves just out from the end of the new jetty which we are constructing, nothing further so back to the tractor. A few moments later I glanced again towards the loch and there nicely framed by a curved overhanging bough, a fish like object (at first) started to appear quite slowly and steadily until it was about 18 inches above the water surface, it then seemed to pause but on reflection I think that this may have been a wave rising up the neck, and then came up about another two feet or so.

It then seemed to stay quite motionless for a short time, very hard to say how long as I was flabbergasted, it was leaning slightly forward and my view was that of a profile. It then moved slowly forward towards the easterly end of the loch and parallel to the shore and slowly sinking from the base upwards but not splashing forward or porpoising etc. It moved about forty yards or so out of the frame work of the bough and I walked forward to see it finally sink out of sight. Now for the first time I realised that I had probably seen the beastie and I became rather bewildered and it has taken me some time to rationalise my sighting. 

Now for a description and I am sorry that I cannot draw, colour black or a browny grey, texture neither rough nor smooth or slimy, matt is the best word I can think of at the moment, diameter say 9", no fins or gills, there appeared to be scales very large on the head only but this was only an impression, a great gash of a mouth at least 9" long and tight shut and above the centre of the mouth what may have been an eye, but possibly a blow hole, very small it appeared to me to be about the size of a pea and pitch black. I was under the impression that the animal was well aware of my presence.

When it first appeared it was about 15' out of the vertical leaning forward but when it sank, it increased this angle to about 30'. There was no further indication of how much remained under water but about a week later I found a 10lb salmon still just alive with a large wound in its side against the jetty. I wonder if it had attacked this fish. The general appearance of the animal was that of a tube, slightly rounded at the top with the head profile rather like that of a lizard, snake or frog. I saw no sign of the often mentioned horses head. 

So it is time to analyze the ins and outs of this interesting report and see what we can conclude from it. As I progressed in this study, I noted the words beginning to increase at a rapid rate. The result of this was a decision to publish this as a monograph at a small price. You can see the title on the cover page below as I have used this as a template for how to look into other such sightings. It will be published as a kindle e-book and I would like readers to consider it as a donation as well. After all, the previous few hundred articles have been free of charge!

Some famous sightings just do not make it to this blog. You won't read about the Torquil MacLeod or Arthur Grant land sightings here, they stay in the book "When Monsters come Ashore" and so on. Enjoy the read and remember to leave an Amazon review, thanks.

The book can be found at and at

The author can be contacted at

Saturday, 22 January 2022

The Monster of Lago Di Garda


A recent photograph has circulated on social media purporting to be the legendary beast of Lake Garda in Italy. Now this is a cryptid tale I am not familiar with but I had a look into it for this piece. The actual posts on the picture were in Italian and so a translation was required. From the Italian:

Ciao a Tutti Fatto questa foto a Manerba sul Lago dl Garda queste estate! Prova a aprire la foto Forse sono solo lo che vedo qualcosa di strano o anche voi? 

Ho fatto delle elaborazioni della immagine del lago di Garda . immagine piu chiara e definita. SI vedono le pinne sotto il pelo dell'acqua i sole che si riflette su parte della testa e sulla parte del corpo esposta al sole (macchie bianche). Per la lunghezza se qualcuno puo elaborarla avendo come punti di riferimento la barca, a occhio non piu di 5/8 metri. Lascio a voi un giudizio.

We get this through Google Translate:

Hello everyone Made this photo in Manerba on Lake Garda this summer! Try to open the photo Maybe I'm just seeing something strange or you too?

I did some elaborations of the image of Lake Garda. clearer and more defined image. You can see the fins under the surface of the water the sun reflecting on part of the head and on the part of the body exposed to the sun (white spots). For the length if someone can process it having as reference points the boat, to the eye no more than 5/8 meters. I leave a judgment to you.

I know, it is a bit terse when you use Google Translate, but we get the gist of the text and that the poster is the taker of the image. His brief post suggests he was no aware of anything in the picture until he examined it more closely. Here is the wider photograph of the lake with the object of interest to the bottom left. After this is a processed image by the owner, whose identity we do not know yet as it has been edited out.

As a digression, Lago Di Garda does indeed have a monster tradition as this text from a tour cruise website summarizes:

Aside from many historical legends about the towns surrounding its shores, with its castles, kings, princesses, princes, and battles, Lake Garda also has a myth about a creature that inhabits its abyss. According to some, inside Lake Garda there may be a prehistoric monster called Bennie, that may even be related to the well-known Nessie, the monster of Loch Ness, in Scotland.

The hypothetical presence of a beast of colossal size in the placid waters of Lake Garda has ancient roots. Since the middle ages there have been sightings of sea monsters that terrified fishermen, local inhabitants, and monks of the monastery on Garda Island. But the legend of the monster of Lake Garda began in the 20th century. The most renowned sighting dates back to the 17th of August 1965 near Mermaid Bay (Baia delle Sirene) on the eastern coast of the lake, not far from the town of Garda.

It was here that a group of about 10 tourists claims to have seen a huge 10 metre long sea creature with a shape similar to a snake rise from the water, and then plunge back into the underwater caves of Garda Island, where it may live shrouded in darkness. The event was reported by many national newspapers and immediately became one of the most intriguing mysteries of Lake Garda.

Garda isn’t the only Italian lake to have its own monster. Even Lake Como has its own legend that talks about a monster roaming its waters called Lariosauro (Lariosaurus). The presence of fish monsters has become one of the main Garda related news in the past few years.

Over the decades, the sightings became more and more frequent, especially from the year 2000 forward. There are about 15 sightings or so, and the “monster” of Garda Lake earned the nickname “Bennie”, in honour of Lake Garda’s ancient name: Benaco. In 2001 a diver claims to have seen Bennie near Gargnano, a later sighting was reported by a hotel owner in the area of Manerba, and in 2013, once again in the area of Mermaid Bay, which seems to be the most mysterious part of the lake, a family claims to have seen a creature over 15 metres in height, with the scary mixed appearance of a snake and a whale.

The last sightings of the Lake Garda monster date back to 2016 and 2018, and Bennie’s international fame has in recent years brought to the origin of many lake tours dedicated to him, as well as many souvenirs and gadgets.

Bennie, named like this by Armando Bellelli, native to Desenzano and expert in mystery stories, is considered to be a “good” monster who has never attacked anyone, and is, in the collective imagination of the locals, depicted as a good fellow, a timid guardian of the lake, who protects it from pollution and excessive exploitation from men.

The mystery of Bennie and its presence in Lake Garda has aroused great interest not only among those passionate about mysteries and legends, but also among the media, like in the TV show “Mistero” (Mystery), on air on Italia Uno, and scientists, like biologist Jeremy Wade, director of the BBC show dedicated to mysterious sea creatures called “River Monsters”.

During an episode dedicated to Lake Garda, that went on air in August 2019, Jeremy Wade has actually caught a giant torpedo catfish over 120kg in weight and 2m in length, but this doesn’t seem enough to describe the mystery of the Garda Lake Monster.

It is in fact believed that in recent years the number of catfish in Lake Garda has been on the rise, with the fishing of some specimen around 80kg in weight, but sightings of the innocuous Bennie continue. To go “hunt” Bennie there have been explorative missions with robots and sonars to scan the depths of the lake, but the mystery, just like with Loch Ness, has yet to be resolved...

Lake Garda itself is located in the North of Italy, about 100 km east of Milan and a similar distance to the west where the sea is. It is about 44 km long and varies between 2 and 10 km wide, so it is of a similar size to Loch Ness. So it has a monster tradition and of a size big enough to harbour one. But what about the photograph? A YouTube reference to the picture was dated to September 2017, so it is over four years old. A quick look at Lake Garda and comparing the picture with satellite coastline gives the location of the picture and confirming it as near the town of Manerba.

Not that this tells us nothing about the genuineness of the photograph. The poster refers to the white boat to the left of the object and I would guess is at least 15 foot long, making the object at least twice as long at thirty feet long - a typical Nessie length. However, that would make the boat a mere sixty feet from the object, which naturally raises the question - did the boat occupants see this object? 

The boat is moving away from the object, if it is moving at all as I cannot see any wake. I see no one on board but that is a hunch. I get the impression it is shallow water, but again this is something I cannot be dogmatic on. There is also a pier to the left at a similar distance with buildings and there are other boats further out - how did no one see this and get some superb pictures? To a lesser extent, why did he not see it at the time?

Which brings us to the main point. It is easy to produce such a picture using image manipulation software - as we saw with the recent so called drone footage of Nessie. In fact, the ease of production and the ready availability of people ready to hoax has made many take the default position that any such picture will be a hoax until proven otherwise. It's really a case of guilty until proven innocent in the world of cryptid images and proving your "innocence" is no easy matter.

So the first task is to find a plesiosaur image of similar posture on the Internet which may have been overlaid into the original photograph or find the original photograph minus a monster. On my own searches of the first few hundred plesiosaur images on Google, I saw nothing which matched well and a look at tourist pictures of the bay did not show up the bay with the same boat in position but with no "Bennie". 

Of course, my search was not exhaustive and the bay photo may have been a picture taken by the poster but I invite others to have a look around. So, as I said, it is guilty until proven innocent these days and time must be allowed to make progress on finding the two incriminating pictures I mentioned before further comments are made.

The author can be contacted at

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Nessie Review of 2021

It is time to look back on the year past and so let us get straight into the recorded sightings via Gary Campbell's sightings register. This records six sightings for the year which compares to eight in 2020 and thirteen in 2019. Now not every account will turn out to be the monster, let everyone judge and be persuaded in their own mind. In fact, to this day, there is no such thing as a "confirmed" sighting as there is no agreed benchmark by which to measure such accounts and who would be the judge that chooses the ruler to perform the measurement? In my mind there are sightings that are beyond my reasonable doubt, but that will not be the case for others.

I would categorize four as single humps, one as a water disturbance and the last was detected underwater on sonar. Three had photographs and one included a sketch. The quality of the photographs are not good and again exemplify the problem of photography at the loch with mobile phone cameras - assuming these were the devices in use. The image below taken by Thomas Dobinson on the 30th July drives home the point.

The witness states that the dark coloured object below the castle was about two hundred yards away and the size of a dog. One may churlishly ask what kind of dog - a great dane or a chihuahua? If we assume a typical mutt then we are talking about two to three feet across. If we triple this to represent the six to nine feet of hump that would break the surface for an eighteen to twenty seven foot monster, even that would not look great on such a photograph - and this is a distance one may expect some clarity. But, no, assuming these estimates are correct, even a close up of a large creature may not cut the mustard due to the poor lens and aperture involved.

Remember, mobile phones are for close up friends and family or huge buildings, mountains and so on. I do not think I have seen a decent defensible picture of the monster since 2016 and the Kate Powell fin-like object. Before that we may go back to Bill Jobes and Jonathan Bright around ten years ago. Have mobile phones made the situation worse as people ditch decent cameras for them? I don't know, but it is a subject for discussion.

One report that I rank higher was by Colin Veacock on the 30th July. I have read the reports in the media, but I know Colin from his previous postings as a Nessie fan on Steve Feltham's Facebook group. Colin said the newspaper reports got various things wrong, so I lifted his own account given in fragments and reproduce it here.

I was scanning up and down the loch north of the castle when on my third pass I noticed this object about two thirds of the way across the loch. It was suddenly just there. I didn't, as one site put it, see a prehistoric monster surge out of the water! At first I thought it was small but later when the Jacobite Warrior passed I got a better idea of scale. It was two feet high, ten to twelve foot long and tapered away into the water. I came to that estimate by judging it was the same size as the handrail at the rear of the Warrior. A black dinghy speedboat passed close but it never moved. An Indian couple parked on my right followed my directions and gave me a thumbs up indicating he could see it. Then the clouds broke bathing the opposite shore and hills in bright sunlight and I lost sight of it in the reflections in the water. I didn't, as one site said, see it plunge into the peaty depths, I just lost sight of it.

... I think it was an animal but not prehistoric. Got to admit though, while watching it I was hoping the classic neck and head would pop up.

... I've always thought that 'Nessie' is something completely knew. Something we haven't come across before due to it spending most of its time in the deep water. I also think its the same species of animal spotted in other bodies of water at that latitude.

... It was just too far away. It was the same size as the handrail at the rear of the Jacobite Warrior. Besides which, every time I looked away it took me a while to relocate it. I should say as well, I thought it was much smaller until the boat came along and gave me a better understanding of the scale and distance involved.

Colin provided a sketch shown here. When I saw this, I thought to myself, where have I seen this before? The high end and the tapering hump evoked a memory of another sighting separated by decades but connected by similarity. The answer came from Rupert T. Gould a mere eighty eight years before and the witness was a Mr. W. D. H. Moir near Inchnacardoch Bay on the 26th August 1933 about 9:15pm. The text from Gould is below.

Mr. Moir was walking from Fort Augustus along the road running towards Port Clair, which skirts Inchnacardoch Bay. Just after he had passed Cherry Island, he noticed a " powerful wash" in the Loch, and observed an object heading to pass close to the far side of the island. He took it at first to be a boat hurrying for the Canal lock - whose gates, at that time, were closed at 9 p.m. As to the visibility, he remarks : "At the time . . . the sun was setting behind the hills, casting bright reflecting lights high over the Loch and the tree-tops, while the water was dead calm."

The object passed "dangerously close" to the far side of Cherry Island, and headed into Inchnacardoch Bay. By this time Mr. Moir - who, having heard no sound of oars or engine, had concluded that it was not a boat - had turned round and was walking back towards the bay. When within the bay it slowed down and appeared to roll from side to side, causing a "rolling wash" which spread until it reached the shore. Suspecting that he was looking at X, he left the road and went down towards the shore for a closer view - managing to get within, as he estimates, 200 yards of it. ...

Two points chiefly surprised him - X's colour, and its size. He had gathered, from previous accounts, that X was black, or almost so - whereas it appeared to him to be brown, "with a tendency to changing colours of a lighter nature, nearer the surface of the water." And he estimated the length of the portion visible to him at 40 feet. Somewhat resembling an upturned boat, it rose moderately sharply to a height of some 5 feet above water at about the same distance from the rear end, and then sloped gently down towards the front ... As he saw neither head nor tail, he concluded that the total length could scarcely be less than 50 feet. [He had X in view for four to five minutes.] He started to walk back towards Fort Augustus; hoping to get a lift on the way, collect his camera, and return to photograph X. After he had gone some distance, he noticed that the time was 9:30, and decided that the chance of getting a photograph was remote. He therefore returned  - but discovered, on coming in sight of the bay, that X had disappeared. 

Two differences between 1933 and 2021 was that Moir's creature was more than three times longer. The other was that the Moir creature was moving whereas Colin's did not seem to budge an inch. Note that the Monster continues to surprise. If one had been asked to guess what direction the creature would move, you may have said right to left as you assumed the raised portion was the shoulders and the back receded down to the submerged tail. But, no, it heads off tapered end first. Would Colin's object have moved in a similar fashion? 

The length to height ratio of the Moir monster was 8:1. Colin estimated his as between 10:1 and 6.7:1 which averages to 8.3:1  - very close to the Moir account. As stated above, Colin was less in accord with the journalists who typed up his account:

Since this sighting the reporters have driven me to the point of madness. Only one swapped an email with me. The rest just exaggerated and right out lied about what I saw. Seems if you're a reporter and you're going to write up a piece on Loch Ness, you either exaggerate and blow it out of all proportion, or you ridicule it and belittle the sighting - but what they don't do is just honestly report the facts.

One argument of the sceptics is that journalists take mundane accounts and spice them up to monstrous levels. In other words, the original account would have been easily explicable if known. It is an attempt to tar and brush many an eyewitness story in one sweeping generalization. As we can see here, they do exaggerate, but the original account is good enough to avoid simplistic dismissal.

Indeed, Gould himself re-interviewed many a witness who were previously published and found them still to be noteable accounts. One final observation is that the Veacock and Dobinson accounts happened on the same day separated by three and a half hours and perhaps less than a mile apart (perhaps Colin could verify that). Maybe that is just coincidence or perhaps it lends mutual credibility. 

The sonar image was discussed in this blog only a few weeks ago at this link. It is a good account by Benjamin Scanlon allied with the boat captain, Mike Bell. I discussed the matter with Mike and felt it was an object of some considerable dimensions, though what exactly those were and what the actual morphology of the object was were beyond the capability of the sonar device. I assume that we will be getting a few more of these images in the year ahead of us.

The third class of account now merits its own section on Gary's sightings website and that is the genre of webcam video images. Gary numbers them at ten for the year compared to five local sightings and one sonar scan. Five were by regular webcam watcher Eoin Fagan, two by Kalynn Wangle, and one by Weiming Jiang, Matt Reddick and Roslyn Casey. Now the regular charge is that these images are just specks of not real use. I wouldn't disagree much with that, but when I checked the three photos we have of the local surface sightings, they were no better, perhaps worse!

That's not the fault of any person, they can only work with the tools they have. But perhaps some hope is at hand as Steve Feltham is looking into installing a webcam from his home on Dores Bay or perhaps somewhere close by. Obviously as close to the loch as possible is high on the list, but I would also suggest a bit of elevation as well and a good HD resolution. Other higher cost questions may be infra red night vision, slow panning to cover more loch and zoom. I have no idea how feasible all of that is.

So much for the sightings log, what about research on this blog? The main breakthrough was finding the Sidney Wignall aerial film of something in Loch Morar. It took a bit of digging and luck but I got some images out there and the object itself (below). However, I concluded I was as ambiguous as Sidney was as to the object's identity. For now, I will say tree log, and hope to investigate it on site in the year ahead.

The other area of investigation this year was the location of the famous 1934 Surgeon's Photograph. I take the view it is a fake, but where from? In my article, I hesitated an educated guess that clues in the story and picture suggest it may have been taken at a quiet spot in Foyers Bay. That opened a slight possibility that something of the model may still be recoverable under ideal circumstances. To that end, I headed there in July with my metal detector. You can see me in action below trawling the shallows.

The trouble was I picked up so much metal thrown in over the decades, any trace of the Christian Spurling submarine may be lost in the noise - if there at all! It was a speculative punt and a bit of fun to boot. At the loch in general, I published two trip reports which are here and here. I also did a couple of interviews for crypto-oriented podcasts and you can see what else I wrote by clicking through the 2021 article history to the bottom right of the blog. The other event of note was an unwanted one in the death of water cryptid researcher, Scott Mardis, who died too young this year and all I can say again is rest in peace, mate. You will be missed.

In summary, I wrote 34 articles this year which is actually an all time low of one every 11 days. The best was 104 posts in 2012 or twice every week. You may well ask if I am getting bored with the subject or am finding less to write about. Well, I am actually concentrating more on other subjects non-Nessie related which has had an effect. But there is a bit of truth in the less to write about category. As I enter the thirteen year of this blog and 787 articles on, the majority of the major photos, films, sightings and hoaxes have been covered.

But some have been revisited this year, as mentioned above for the Surgeon's Photograph and also the AAA sighting by John McLean from 1938 as new information bolstered that account. In fact, I hope to start 2022 with an article on one of the classic sightings yet to be covered here. New sightings will obviously continue to come in and personal research will continue as it looks into things old and new.

With that I will wish all readers  prosperous 2022.

The author can be contacted at

Sunday, 19 December 2021

Good Old Fashioned Research

Time to talk about Loch Ness Monster research the good old fashioned way. I don't mean dragging huge ham joints by hook in a boat or sweeping wartime searchlights across the loch, but rather the mundane trawling of the archives for information. One of my favourite venues for this has been the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. It is one of Britain's largest libraries, housing over 24 million items such as books, newspapers, photographs, films and manuscripts going back centuries and with the emphasis on Scottish culture. A perfect place for Loch Ness Monster research.

When I started researching my first book, "The Water Horses of Loch Ness", ten years ago, it was not all about online or digitized resources. Since the book was concerned with Scottish monster folklore, I was busy reserving and consulting books from the 18th and 19th century right up to but before the Nessie era of 1933. Sometimes white cotton gloves were required to handle the rarer and more delicate books. A lot of fact checking went on, such as verifying a claim made to the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau decades ago that Daniel Defoe mentioned two "leviathans" seen in Loch Ness by General Wade's road builders in a certain edition of his book "A Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain" undertaken in 1724. It was fun handling those ancient books with their weird fonts and ye olde English.

Part of that research was scanning through old Scottish and Highland newspapers. Now newspapers over a hundred years old are generally not available due to their fragile nature. After all, they were originally intended to be read and discarded after a few days. To preserve the originals, they were photographed page by page and transferred to rolls of microfilm. Many were the days I plugged a roll of film into the microfilm reader and flick through the image of the pages projected onto the screen, not just for that book research, but for retrieving information on old sightings, expeditions and personalities. 

Now you might think online websites such as the British Newspaper Archive has made those microfilm readers obsolete, but this is not the case. For example, its online archive does not hold any Inverness Courier copies after 1909, twenty four years before Nessie reports began to flood in. Likewise, nothing from the Northern Chronicle after 1914. Such local newspapers carry monster reports not seen anywhere else. Having said that, titles and years are being added all the time and it has to be admitted that finding keywords such as "Loch Ness Monster" is much harder with microfilm than typing a search term into a website. 

But a day is coming when the local researcher will have little advantage over the global researcher as Google continues to digitises millions of books and all old newspapers go online. Until that day comes, I will continue to visit the vast collection that is the National Library of Scotland, and so it was as I was there last Thursday. I had reserved some items (not all Loch Ness related) and took my seat here. One book was reserved because it cost about £170 to buy and I wasn't going to shell out that much! The other was a book from 1642 that I wished to peruse as well.

Then it was onto the microfilm rolls, one for a bit of family research and the other Loch Ness related. That was the Inverness Courier for the last half of 1973 as I was researching a new article. Even though I had one item in mind, I like to scan on and see what else was going on at that time. I found a couple of references to the upcoming Japanese Expedition of that time, which were of slight interest as they did not cover the actual event. In fact, I only found one sighting recorded for that time period which is shown at the top. In terms of microfilm to blog, this involves printing the article, scanning it onto my laptop when I get home and then running this image through an OCR application and finally correcting any mistakes in that process to give you the text below.

I must also add that since my last visit, the library had replaced the old microfilm readers with new digitised ones. You set up the film roll in the spindles as usual but the current page is now scanned digitally and then displayed on a computer monitor. Did this make microfilm research easier? No, it made it worse! If you know exactly what you are looking for then it is probably great, but if you do not it is a royal pain.

I say that because when I search chronologically through the newspaper pages, I can quickly scroll past unwanted pages (such as adverts or sports pages). In a straight forward bulb projection, the pages scroll past you on the screen. With the new fangled version, you have to click the "forward" button with your mouse and the longer you press the button, the more it advances. However, you do not see the film scroll past you, the monitor goes black until you let go of the mouse button which means you have no idea how far you have advanced until the program spends 4 to 5 seconds scanning in the film below and then displaying it.

I eventually gave up on the mouse and just rotated the spindle with my fingers using the actual microfilm transparencies as a guide.This made scroll through take two to three times longer. I hope they put back at least one old analogue device for good old fashioned researchers like myself. But back to the monster report.


Hotel Guests' Thrill

Sightings of the Loch Ness Monster this Summer have been few and far between, but news has just come that it was watched by a number of guests at Foyers Hotel two weeks ago. It was after 9 o'clock in the evening that the sighting occurred when several guests were walking. in the hotel grounds which, like the hotel itself, occupy a commanding stance overlooking the loch. There were two humps, each separated by a space of water several feet apart, and the guests thought the total length of the two humps was 20 feet, and of a dark colour.

The humps appeared fairly close inshore and not far from the spot where work is going on at the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board's pump-storage "rig" is situated at the Loch-side. The humps then moved away towards the opposite side of the loch in a diagonal line, and the crossing to the far side took the best part of seven minutes. The guests were astounded, and later spoke of their experience to the hotel manager.

Unfortunately, a party of senior pupils from a well-known school at Leamington Spa, who were in the hotel at the time for coffee, were unaware of what was happening on the loch's surface, for it is the third year in succession that a party from the school has spent part of  the vacation at Loch Ness-side, in the hope of seeing the Monster. 

Some more good old fashioned research followed as I looked at the sightings database I consult which showed three sightings for 1973. The more extensive list compiled by Ulrich Magin which is less fastidious and precise gives twelve sightings. This reduces to ten if we discount the two reported sightings by Frank Searle. By cross referencing with Nicholas Witchell's "The Loch Ness Story" (1975 edition p.71), our unnamed witnesses turn out to be a party of five including a Mr. J. Shaw and a Mr. E. Moran from Yorkshire. 

As the article states, I can concur that the location offers a commanding view of the loch as this picture I took below in 2017 shows. I suspect many a monster hunter has scanned the loch for hints of the monster from here. However, the counter to commanding views is the longer distances and so any normal photo taken from this location will likely produce an interesting image but no game changer.

It is a two humper and its diagonal progress across the loch clearly excludes such phenomena as wakes and waves. Also, boats do not tend to follow each other less than twenty feet apart. Since the object was seen close inshore and the loch is about a mile wide, if we assume a 45 degree diagonal swim to the opposite side in seven minutes, this gives us a rough speed of twelve miles per hour which is faster than the usual outboard motor boats.

Interestingly, there was another sighting about eight hours before by the Pugh family up the top of the loch opposite Tor Point on the A82 detailed in Rip Hepple's Nessletter No.2. They observed what they thought was a smooth, blackish-brown sandbank 100 yards out and 4-6 foot long which later disappeared. Later they realised Loch Ness has no tides and it was likely they had been watching a low lying hump. Could these have been the same creature? Of course, one may say no because one is two humps and the other is a single hump. But as we know, our cryptid is a bit of a shape shifter when it comes to back contours. Ultimately, we shall never know and at this point.

One final word is for those senior pupils from the Leamington Spa High School who missed out on the sighting. As it turns out, we have met this group before in a previous article. They had been to the loch previously in 1971 and 1972 and produced a booklet on those trips (below). I did not know that they had returned in 1973 and as to what they may or may have not seen, I have no idea.

And with that I will wish readers a Merry Christmas.

The author can be contacted at

Thursday, 9 December 2021

New Book on the Loch Ness Monster


I am pleased to say that Joe Zarzynski, as one of the monster hunters active from the 1970s, has decided to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write down his memories and thoughts on his life searching for Nessie back in the day when all the famous monster hunters such as Dinsdale, Rines, Mackal, Holiday and so on were still active at the loch pursuing their common quarry. His personal timeline began 1974 to 1991 and it should be an interesting read from an interesting period which Joe Zarzynski called the "Golden Age of Monster Hunting". I wouldn't especially argue with that statement (though others may think the 1960s edge it).

Joe was not as well known as the Dinsdales and Rines of the Nessie world, but he has a story to tell and was a seasoned cryptozoologist in his own right having focused his main attention on the monster of Lake Champlain or Champ and written on that subject extensively in "Champ - Beyond the Legend". I had written some years back on Joe's other Loch Ness related book on underwater wrecks. This combined his love of aquatic cryptids and searching for sunken ships. The promotion for this new book reads thus:

Cryptozoologist-turned-maritime-archaeologist Joseph W. Zarzynski's new book LOCHEND -- MONSTER HUNTING ON THE RUN is about the golden age of monster hunting at Loch Ness, Scotland. The Saratoga County, New York author chronicles the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, when sophisticated technology was first employed trying to solve the Nessie enigma. That specialized equipment was developed because Cold War tensions necessitated advanced remote sensing to probe the deepest oceans.

Since April 1933, when Aldie and John Mackay, Drumnadrochit, Scotland residents, sighted a strange creature splashing about on the surface of the 22 ½ mile-long Loch Ness, the world has been fascinated that the waterway might be the habitat of a colony of large unidentified animals. Soon afterwards, expeditions were organized to the Scottish Highlands trying to solve the world's most challenging zoological puzzle.

Beginning in the 1960s, more advanced scientific equipment was brought to the deep waterway hoping that state-of-the-art electronics and optics might decipher the scientific mystery. In the 1970s, some of the best scientists in the world traveled to the legendary loch with teams of scuba divers, side scan sonar, customized underwater cameras, and other remote sensing apparatus. In a sense, well-publicized Loch Ness became a testing ground for some of this cutting-edge underwater technology.

The 200-page book, with over 90 photographs and illustrations, likewise tells the story of a little-known athletic accomplishment at Loch Ness. In 1984, Joseph W. Zarzynski, a self-described "average" marathoner and ultramarathoner, completed a 28.5-mile solo run along the loch. He may have been the first person to have run the full length of fabled Loch Ness. The author uses his overland jaunt to tell anecdotes about the heyday of pursuing the elusive Nessie animals.

Included in the book are also stories about other Loch Ness mysteries. These include: an ancient artificial island called a crannog, a hill where local lore has it that a dragon is buried there, possible monster hoaxes perpetrated at the waterway, a reputed 1934 sighting of a Nessie monster crossing a shoreside road, strange stone circles found on the waterway's bottomlands, a full-scale movie monster prop that sank in the loch, a giant fiberglass net sunk in the loch to snare a beastie, and a rare World War II bomber discovered during a Loch Ness monster search. Moreover, Zarzynski provides a primer into other denizens of the deep known by these nicknames―Morag (Loch Morar, Scotland), Seileag (Loch Shiel, Scotland), and Champ (Lake Champlain, New York, Vermont, and Quebec).

From 1974–1991, Joseph W. Zarzynski conducted numerous cryptozoological expeditions at Loch Ness, Scotland and at "North America's Loch Ness"―Lake Champlain. Readers will enjoy this real-life adventure set during the high watermark of seeking Nessie.

I have one photo of Joe from that period (courtesy of Tony Healey) pictured on the right with the man himself, Tim Dinsdale. Doubtless we will see more photos of interest in Joe's book. 

Joe's "Lochend - Monster Hunting on the Run" will be published on December 13th just in time to end up in your Christmas stockings. I will bypass Santa and pre-order it now. It is available to order at and

The author can be contacted at

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Comments on a Summer Sighting

I note I had not posted on the Loch Ness Monster since October, having posted twice on her "sister" in Loch Morar. So, I wanted to remark on a sighting report made in the Summer at the loch. Gary Campbell, over at his Loch Ness sightings register website, had (last time I looked) registered a total of 13 sightings thus far for 2021. Helpfully, he has split them into two sections, those at the loch and those via the webcam run by Mikko Takala.

The total was eight webcam and five at the loch. I have already made my views on the webcam reports known before and await better equipment for webcam enthusiasts to use. It is one of the in situ sightings I move onto. This was a sonar contact from one of the tourist cruise boats that ply their trade on the loch. The description from Gary's site is brief:

26 August - Benjamin Scanlon was on holiday with his family and took a trip on the 'Nessie Hunter' of Loch Ness Cruises. He spotted something on the sonar on the boat and caught the image below. Captain Mike of the boat estimated it to be 3-4 metres in length, at a depth of about 20 metres, while the boat was in water about 40 metres deep. 

The image captured by Benjamin is shown at the top. Naturally, sonar images have come more into vogue since the fascinating image captured by Cruise Loch Ness a year ago. The skipper of the boat is Mike Bell who posted a better image on Facebook (below) which we can try and make some estimates from. The first thing to note is that a length of three to four metres is estimated to which we address some comments.

I reached out to Mike on Facebook and he answered some questions I posed to him. 

We were maybe around 200m away from the grant tower of Urquhart Castle, heading out to the deeper water. This was around 10 minutes into the cruise and after giving the young gentleman a demonstration of how the sonar works. We were moving at the time doing our usual tour speed and because of this and knowing how fast we go every second, we then use this to give a rough estimate of what size the object is.  I don’t know [how] familiar you are with sonar as well but we also had our gain turned down at the time, which is why the contact looks a little “broken”

As stated before, the horizontal display is a time axis, so no length dimension can be calculated directly without some further information, which is basically how much the boat has moved and how much the sonar contact has moved relative to each other. This is not a snapshot of the entire object, rather it is a continuous sequence of snapshots merging into a single drawn out streak. The best photo analogy would be someone with a long exposure camera snapping a car driving by. The resulting image would be a streak as successive images of the car merge into one long blur. Or, in this case, it may be more like the camera moving quickly past a stationary car resulting in a similar image.

This is quite frustrating and makes me ask if these sophisticated sonar devices have a snapshot option which would send out one or more quick pings to construct one single image and freeze frame display that to give us a better idea of the dimensions of the object. A continuous time display is actually a hindrance. Again I asked Mike Bell if such an option existed, he said he was not aware of it.

I asked Mike for his speed estimate and it was 6.5 knots per hour or 7.5 mph, but actually it is displayed on the sonar display screen anyway. The heading can also be seen on the display as roughly bearing 155 degrees or about south by south east.  However, the same cannot be quite said for the vertical axis which is the depth measurement in metres. Using the gradations to the right (0, 20, 40 and 60m), the maximum vertical extent of the object comes out at three metres or nine feet. Now granted this is not a rock solid calculation either as an object could move vertically up or down during the period of the scanning, causing it to appear thicker than it is.

To add to the uncertainty, the sonar is highlighting the biggest discontinuity between the object and the surrounding water, which is usually from water to gas to water here and usually indicates the lungs or swim bladder of an animal, if indeed it is an animal in view here. Note that animal flesh is largely composed of water and so is not so easily distinguished from the surrounding waters. I say that lungs or swim bladder as the interface between different temperature layers of water is usually blamed for these readings by more sceptical researchers. There is no denying that the thermocline exists and is detectable, my only objection is that it should appear practically all the time to which I asked Mike if the phenomenon was still visible on the return journey to the pier.

His answer was it was not, but neither was the thermocline as they had turned down the gain to filter it out as much as possible. This naturally leads to the question as to how the object would look if the gain was raised? In other words, what is the "true" nature of the image? Gain is defined as the sensitivity of the sonar receiver to compensate for water depth and water clarity. Increasing the gain shows more detail, and decreasing the gain reduces screen clutter. In terms of the photographic analogy, it is a bit like reducing the aperture size, producing a dimmer image and the effect that has on objects in the picture.

That may well affect the vertical estimate of three metres given above which introduces the need to find a suitable frame of reference against which to measure these sonar contacts when certain parameters can be varied via buttons and dials. This procedure is called calibration and it can involve tests such as dropping an object of known size and density to predetermined depths and note its sonar image for a variety of configurable parameters - or a default set. This is a natural question to ask because a three metre deep contact which is assumed to be just the lungs or swim bladder would imply an awfully big cross section for the whole creature.

But what about a skeleton, are not bones denser than water too? They would be but remember it is the discontinuity in density differences that registers on sonar and the transition from gas to water is bigger than from bone to water. But I suspect a skeletal echo return could add to the "fuzziness" of the image. In the absence of calibration, Mike's own size estimate is one based on experience and how the sonar contacts from known objects such as fish compare to this curious and large contact.

So expect more sonar images to appear in the media as we move into 2022. These are to be welcomed and analysed on their own individual merits. However, a form of sonar "fatigue" may well set in at some point as readers get used to this kind of image and then the questions will be asked as to what do we do with these images and what is the next step after that? That is probably an evolving debate.

The author can be contacted at

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Analysis of the 1981 Loch Morar Film


The last article gave readers an update on where I had got with finding the alleged film of a creature taken by the Sidney Wignall expedition to Loch Morar in 1981. However, after a few roadblocks, I managed to get a sight of the film that has aroused curiosity amongst cryptozoologists for some time. The clip I had access to lasts about two minutes and it does show the flyover of the object of interest.

Due to the ongoing issues of copyright and cost, it is not possible to show the clip in public, but I have some screenshots which I grabbed which can convey what is on the film. The first frame above gives us the context of the film, namely Sidney Wignall in his microlite spotting something in the water and homing in on it to get a closer view. We shall first discuss the actual location of the object as the next frame shows us the bay of interest with shallow sandbanks, a white sandy beach bordering it, a tree just right of centre and two streams feeding into the loch.

A perusal of the various search engine satellite maps homes us into the beach as it was photographed recently. The tree, streams, sandbanks are all pretty much there as they were back in 1981. The bay is called Camas Luinge and is located in the central southern coastline of the loch. This is circled in the map of the loch below. One of the rivers feeding in is the largest one of the loch, the River Meoble. One therefore wonders how good the trout and salmon are there. There is also another beast of legend here, the Grey Dog of Meoble as discussed by Mike Dash here.

The area is not totally remote as it is accessed regularly by canoeists, bikers and hillwalkers as this photo of the bay below by one hiker suggests. Nevertheless, Loch Morar is a wilderness loch compared to Loch Ness and no major roads serve the south side of the loch. To get there you will have to expend some energy


But back to Sidney Wignall. In the clip he takes us through the film, which starts with a scene of the microlite taking off from the surface of the loch, controlled by one of his expedition colleagues. The scene then switches to an odd looking thousand yard wake which Sidney speculated was created by one of the creatures. There is no boat in sight, but the sequence is a bit indistinct. We then came to the important part of the film. As his craft descended, our object of interest came faintly into view. Below, we show first the original image and then we circle the faint image of the object.

Then from a height of about 200 feet, the object comes into view and is shown below. Now when I saw this on the video clip, I immediately understood why one monster expert, Rip Hepple, said it looked like a plesiosaur but another one, Adrian Shine, said it looked like a log. This object, like many images of the Loch Ness Monster effortlessly lives in both worlds simultaneously.

Actually, I was a bit disappointed when I saw the image. Having read Rip's words, I was half expecting a bulbous body, a long neck, long tail and flippers, or as he said "It was as close as anyone could wish, to being a silhouette of a plesiosaur.". One can see a creature of sorts under the water, perhaps a plesiosaur side on, but this is shallow water and one wonders if the object is in mid-water or merely lying on the sandbank and is partially buried in the sand?

The above image pretty much encapsulates the whole clip as I could not see the object move though the aspect of it changed as the microlite circled around it. Sidney pointed out what could be a flipper, long snout and a forked tail, though he would not explicitly state that this was the Loch Morar Monster and marked it as "unexplained". He did say that they had not seen anything unusual in the area on previous aerial surveys. He also estimated the length of the object to be about twenty five feet long.

Now I was under a bit of a misapprehension as I thought the film sequence would show two creatures. I based this on Sidney's own words from an article he wrote for the Pursuit magazine dated April-June 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?

So it appears that "Thing No.1" is our object in the still frame, but "Thing No.2" did not appear on the film. I did look close at the film for anything within 30 metres of "Thing No.1", but nothing is obvious to me. Perhaps it was in the deeper darker waters away from the highly reflective sand. So what exactly are we looking at here? Is it just a log or something else? The fact that Sidney himself is ambivalent and very much doubts it was an animate object perhaps sums up the matter. He says above that he did discover a log but thought it unrelated to the film. Does that imply he found nothing at the spot when he went there to investigate?

To complete the analysis, I zoomed into the bay today using the best satellite images I could find and noticed something perhaps worthy of further investigation. At roughly the same spot as the Wignall film in the sandbank I noted a sliver of darkness perhaps indicative of an object. The same image is reproduced circling the area of interest and then a different satellite image showing this blob. 

If it was a log, then could we expect it to still be there 40 years later? Only a visit to that spot with a drone camera or going in with waders could determine whether it is at all related to the object filmed back in 1981. In the meantime, I think we can close the case on this film and readers' opinions are invited. What now remains is to find this missing photograph of the mysterious second object. That may seem a daunting task, but I think I know where to begin looking. It will not be available online and I suspect it is held in the form of an old 35mm transparent colour slide. Wish me luck!

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