A month or so ago, I was looking for four small books to complete my collection of Loch Ness Monster books. I wrote on how I got Constance Whyte's 1951 booklet on the monster and now I have obtained a copy of Ben Sensical's 1982 booklet, "Loch Ness: An Explanation". As it happened, I was contacted by another Nessie fan who was lucky enough to have bought a copy last May and he sent me a photo of the cover for my occasionally updated article on Loch Ness Monster books. Fortunately, he was kind enough to let me buy it from him for the price it cost him, so thanks again! That now leaves me with two remaining books to find. I wonder how easy those ones will be to find?
But this booklet turned out to be a well timed purchase given the publicity concerning the latest sonar picture of the Loch Ness Monster taken by Cruise Loch Ness. I say that not in the sense that the author has anything to say about sonar, but because the theory he expounds is being expressed in some form by those trying hard to debunk and dismiss this important sonar contact. To cut to the chase, there is a sceptic by the name of Dick Raynor who was once a believer in monsters in Loch Ness but departed from such a mindset, probably in the 1980s, when scepticism began to rise in influence. This is what he recently said on Steve Feltham's Facebook group:
... there is every reason to recognise this as a sonar target, but there are lots of things that get washed down to the bottom of lakes. The wrapping from silage and straw bales could be carried down by the inflowing river currents and be buoyed up from the bottom by natural gases from the sediment. Genuine sonar target, yes. ID as a 'creature' - I'm not so sure.
It can be stated immediately that hours of television observation of the loch floor in deepwater have revealed no more than occasional twigs projecting from the fine silt. If logs are present here, they are a rarity. Intact leaves find their way into the sediment, but at a temperature of 5‑6 oC decomposition is slow. No sign of gas bubbles can be provoked by probing the sediment in front of the camera and no gas has been observed in cores or other mud samples brought rapidly to the surface. Loch Ness should not be visualized as a stagnant pond.
Note here two things. Again, gas production is next to non-existent. Secondly, there was no or little trace of anything which could register on sonar, be it tree trunks, silage or hay bales. It seems that if they even make it to the loch bottom at all, they just sink without trace, never to be seen again. We can now say the same about Dick Raynor's theory. Nevertheless, I am surprised he even suggested this theory. After all, he is put forward as an expert, so why was he not aware of this work by his long time associate, Adrian Shine? Then again, perhaps he was. While we are here, here is another paragraph from the work of the Loch Ness Project sonar work:
In shallow water, Trout have been observed to shoal on the approach of a diver or television camera. Fish concentrate inshore, within the scattering layer and in autumn loose shoals are to be found at the near surface. None has been observed in deep water. Shoals often exhibit 'tails' on echo‑sounder records, due to inter‑reflections between the fish returning over an extended period. Only one of our contacts showed any vertical extent on the record.
Nevertheless, contacts of interest, in terms of strength (sometimes considerable), depth and possible movement, do occur. By establishing a background against which anomalies may be judged, it is recognized that overlaps sometimes exist in all three criteria, with the presence and behaviour of the known fish population. On the other hand, superficially pedestrian explanations, such as a record‑class salmon in the main water column, deep swimming fish shoals and midwater logs, can all be seen to represent anomalies in themselves.
There you have it, anyone trying to fob off this new sonar contact as a big salmon, fish shoal or a floating log is deemed to be peddling "superficially pedestrian explanations" by the Loch Ness Project. We can now add silage and hay bales to the list of superficially pedestrian explanations.
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