Tuesday 18 December 2018

A New Photograph of Nessie?

Today the Sun newspaper published what is undoubtedly at face value a fascinating photograph allegedly of the Loch Ness Monster taken by a Ricky Phillips on the 13th December. The account runs as follows: 

IT'S one of the UK's greatest unexplained mysteries, with tales of the mythical beast spanning centuries. And now another reported sighting of the Loch Ness monster has been officially recorded after a creature with a "4ft neck" was spotted in the murky waters.

Ricky Phillips, who works as a guide, says he was waiting for his group of tourists to finish their cruise when he noticed the strange sight last Thursday. The 39-year-old says he was sitting at the River Oich as it flows into Loch Ness at Fort Augustus eating some chips when he heard a weird noise. Mr Phillips, who writes history books, said: "It was a grey creature - almost bird like - in a grey stretch of water."

"It's neck was three to four feet long, a head the size of a rugby ball and a ridge across its eyes. I was baffled. The previous Wednesday I had heard a strange noise as I was stood by a cafe at the edge of the loch in Fort Augustus. The noise sounded almost metallic, but like something was blowing air - like Darth Vader. I have swum and sailed with whales and dolphins, seen hundreds of seals, and it sounded like nothing I have ever heard. I spun around and saw something grey, just a side of a body and a flipper.

"Then last Thursday after my tour party went on their cruise I decided to take a walk along the river Oich, mainly to see the old bridge, and was taking a few pictures of the loch and the scenery when I again heard that curious noise. I looked up from my phone and saw a long, straight neck, all completely grey, and a narrow face, which was only about 20ft away and then it turned and disappeared all in a few seconds. I looked down and realised that it was in my picture, so zoomed in and there it was. It actually looks like a giant bird or a peacock in the face, with high ridges above its eyes and what almost looks like a beak.

"I know dinosaurs came from birds and that many had hard lips, almost like a beak - but this is simply what I saw. It seems to have almost a frill on its neck. It is very odd. All I will say is that, if I was going to fake a Nessie, I would certainly have made it look less like a bird and more like... well, more like what we think Nessie looks like!"

The image was today accepted by the Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register. The previous sightin was recorded by an American tourist who saw a dark green object protruding 4.5 feet above the water on November 22. According to Google there are 200,000 searches each month for the Loch Ness Monster, which is estimated to be worth £41million to the region.

This is indeed a curious tale where the witness speaks of two sightings less than a week apart accompanied by a strange metallic sound. I must admit I have not heard of such a noise but the picture is consistent enough with the eyewitness database. Sceptics will of course question his good fortune in seeing something twice so quickly and may well tell us that there is no proof from the picture that it was taken at Loch Ness. I am hopeful that Ricky will allow any uncropped picture to be published and clear that up as well as provide reference points to make further estimates.

It may also be said that it is simply a bird like a cormorant, but I do not think those birds have such a thick neck. I am also wondering what the dark patch is to the right? Perhaps just debris, which again will be suggested as the explanation for the object - a tree branch. Anyway, it is best to get the sceptical interpretations out there in the open for discussion and dismissal of all, save perhaps one.

However, the fibre like projections from the "head" are strange as one could interpret them as small branches. I am not committing to such an explanation yet. Meantime, I await that uncropped picture for further deliberation.

UPDATE: I got in contact with Ricky via Facebook and asked him a few questions. The first point is that the Sun article got a few things wrong.  Ricky said "It looks like a bloody Peacock doing the breast stroke!" and he never said it sounded like Darth Vader breathing but jokingly said "it made a noise which sounded like a blowing of air, but metallic, kind of like Darth Vader sneezing!". I am trying to imagine what that sounds like myself.

Ricky asserted that the object was not a bird or a branch but unlike the Sun claiming that he had said he had proof, he is downplaying it more and saying this is what I snapped. As to the larger uncropped image I requested, Ricky said: "My phone is on its last legs and jam-packed with thousands of photos, mostly all Falklands War related, so nothing new seems to be storing. When I zoomed in and saw that as big as I could, I posted it straight to Instagram from the picture itself, so I could keep it.".

This will be a gift to the sceptics as they search for any reason to debunk this picture, but it goes with the territory and it was no surprise when Ricky said "I almost didn't say anything, because in my line of work, you need sincerity and integrity", confirming again that the presence of sceptics is actually a powerful demotivator against going public. I also believe that pictures can be taken with a mobile phone camera even if the memory is full but can be shared onto socila media websites.

The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com