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


Credit: https://niksbikingblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/highland-summertime-bikepacking-and.html


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!



The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com


63 comments:

  1. Not sure bout a plesiosaur lol.. Looks more like a shark!!!...cheers

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    1. Thanks Riitta.. Yes I still pop in now and again.. I have too much interest in the mystery to stay away lol.. Just counting the days/weeks to my next visit to the loch lol....roll on . Cheeers7

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  2. That closeup seems to be showing the Shark that was speculated nessie as being in River Monsters!

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  3. That closeup seemed to be a lot like the Shark speculated nessie to being on River Monsters!

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    1. Shark? Well that could explain triangular hump sightings.

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    2. Also the many sightings that stated looked like upturned boat!

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  4. Too bad, another picture said to show without any doubt Nessie turns out to be anything but that!

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  5. Great work, GB, and good luck solving the mystery of this film!

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    1. A trip to Morar may be in the offing!

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    2. Seems as if your drone could solve this mystery!

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  6. Its wallowing in the shallow sand..like a dog in the dirt. The other fin is buried

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  7. bit of a shame isn't it (again) can't really see a plesiosaur more like a shark swimming in the shallows ...or a log of course. Never actually been to Morar which will have to be fixed soon hopefully & should be far less people about as well. The water clearer & not so peat stained is thar right ?
    Looking forward to a Morar report GB

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    1. Yes, water a lot clearer. I did some drone work there last year, though didn't spot anything.

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    2. Did you fly your drone over this area?

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  8. I can see a head to the right and a raised flipper, but only because I want to. Heart sank when reading the story.

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    1. Well, Wignall did say it looked inanimate, it was the other object that was to be of more interest ...

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  9. This is the same bay where Bob Duff had his sighting/encounter in July of 1969- just a month prior to the famous William Simpson & Duncan MacDonnell incident.


    http://dinoplaza.blogspot.com/2011/01/loch-morar-is-freshwater-loch-morar.html?m=1

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    1. Interesting, his monster was lying on the bottom just like Wignall's object in the same sandy area.

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    2. Three digits on the front limbs eh? Don't some accounts mention three toes on the LNM too? Hmm...

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    3. Webb feet which open up when swimming.

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  10. Thanks for sharing this Roland.

    I did the exact same thing and checked several sites/apps with satellite viewing and there does appear to be an object in each one within the same area. Much like the latest 'account' with the individual saying he could see an object near the islands of Morar but sadly it was a sandbank.

    Regardless of what is shown here, this was a nice surprise article and as always very welcome. Cheers Roland.

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    1. Thanks, I would still like to check out the satellite object, may or may not be related. The object in the Wignall film may be a log but there is some wiggle room for some other explanation.

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    2. Here's hoping. It's a bizarre shape for sure and it does feel out of place and that's why it's important to exhaust all possibilities. Not that you've asked but happy to help if I can Roland.

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  11. You have to concur with Wignall- the object looks entirely inanimate. Weirdly, I did not feel disappointed to find this out.Top work Roland!

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  12. Great work yet again, Roland. Thanks for your efforts. The search continues.

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  13. This may be farfetched but is it possible that this object could in fact be the shadow of Wignall's craft?

    If you compare his aircraft side on to this object in the water there is a small resemblance. Just food for thought but I'd imagine I'm mistaken as I'm unclear of the time of day. If the craft descended to 200ft, is it possible to even see a shadow?

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    1. I would say the microlite structure is too extended to account for a shadow or reflection.

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    2. If anything I'm now more than ever wanting to purchase a drone and visit both Lochs.

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    3. How local are you AR? I visit when I can, but the distance with my living near Cumbernauld and having small children kind of limits me. I used to visit when in the area on jobs, but those days have been few and far between too.

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    4. @TheLatman I'm based just outside Edinburgh in Newtongrange. It's a good few hours drive from where I stay. I'm hoping to get up before winter really hits, possibly camp out on Friday and the Sunday. Loch Morar is stunning but it can take a while to get there especially during the winter. I was originally born and from Plockton on the West Coast, really wish I was still there as the journey to both Lochs aren't that far compared to Newtongrange.

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    5. Oops, accidentally deleted Latman's comment. The Latman said:

      Good luck bud, let us know what you discover?

      I don't recall ever visiting Morar myself, been to ness quite a few times though. Must add Morar to my list of places to visit here.

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    6. Haha, dinnae fess pal...The wife tries to delete me too :)

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  14. A nice surprise for a Monday morning Roland, nice one. What's interesting / deflating is that the satellite image shows a similar object there. Unless it's the critter coming to the exact spot to feed, then it must be a natural inanimate object. I hope you aren't out of pocket for viewing this film? If so, I (and others I'm sure) will contribute what I can?

    With any luck (and some more awesome detective skills - you're clearly wasted as a software engineer my friend) you can track down this elusive and more interesting picture.

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    1. We'll find out in due course. But looks a good spot for some droning whether any log is there or not.

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  15. A wee thought I had, did you get this from a friend / family member of Wignall, if so, what do they make of it?

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  16. On my bucket list loch morar.. Can sum one tell me roughly how long the drive wud be from Fort augustus? I've heard different times.

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    1. Just over an hour and a half. https://www.theaa.com/route-planner/route?from=fort%20augustus&to=morar

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    2. did the drive to Morar a couple of times this summer, it takes 3 hours from dores.

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    3. I think the section from Banavie up to Morar, is just about the best condition road in the Highlands to drive. They improved it massively to make it quicker for the fish lorries coming down from Mallaig, its like a continental highway, and the scenery is some of the most stunning that I know of.

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    4. Nice one..came on train last couple years so no transport to get about.My daughter driving now so gunna drive up..will defo take it in and go on that route.. Cheers

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  17. @ROY I've made that drive in 2hrs during summer with no stops. So I'm guessing it may take 2hrs 30mins or possibly 3hrs. Really depends on how confident you are on the roads and how busy it is. Either way it's a stunning drive and beautiful in all weather.

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  18. Hi Roy, on a good day about an hour and a half but I would allow up to 2 hours. We've done it loads of times ourselves. It's a beautiful drive and if you get the chance, walk the shoreline to Swordlands. Its got some cracking views of Morar, especially on a sunny day. Well worth the visit.

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  19. Thanks very much all...bin saying for years I will go to morar but never get round to it lol .. Prob down to the tennents and dramms and pubs in Fort augustus and feeling rough most mornings! Will defo try and go on my next visit cus we will be staying longer next time! I've heard it's stunning and like loch ness could harbour a large creature or two .. Cheers all

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  20. Is there enough food there to sustain a small population of creatures though?

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    1. @JesusFan - Roland has made several entries in regards to food and how it may or may not sustain a population. You can find this on the right-hand side of the Web version rather than mobile. It focuses on Loch Ness but you could also transition that idea to Loch Morar.

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  21. I suppose that wud depend on what those creatures are....cheers

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  22. Great article. You seem to be falling on a hard negative outcome which is a shame but not too surprising. I don't think it would be buried in the archives if it showed a plesiosaur but appreciate the effort.

    Morar is absolutely stunning - and with clear water it should theoretically be easier to find a "monster".

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    1. Yes, I think good evidence will not stay hidden, the cream always rises to the top so to speak. That's why stuff like the McRae film should raise a red flag (unless it was destroyed or lost).

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    2. That's a good point Roland.

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    3. As mental as the premise of the McRae film was, I get the allure. As ridiculous as it is - what if? I read your article on it earlier again - defo one of your best.

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    4. I enjoyed writing it, but I was mainly bringing together what others had dug up, but I add my own thoughts at the end. As I said, game-changers tend not to stay hidden unless they are beyond reach.

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  23. Nice article, excellent research, the tales of Loch Morar have always intrigued me as much as Loch Ness.

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  24. When i watched this originally, i thought it was a shark. I'm sure the guy said, that he wanted to jump in with it. I remember thinking, the shark will eat you.

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  25. When I first saw this film on TV (shown in Black and White) I thought it looked Crocodilian. I also remember the guy saying he wanted to jump in with it to take a tissue sample.

    I remember thinking you are a braver man than me.

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  26. The still pic is Very disappointing, obviously logs, or maybe old bits of a boat. What people see as a fin is actually another log or debris leaning up against the main part. Zoom in to the right there are 3 smaller cylinder shapes either cut logs or part of a boat or some other wreckage imho

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  27. Yeah, I hoped for something more impressive. Maybe one day we'll see at least one of the LNIB films from the 60's
    Cheers! And thanks for the effort Roland, truly inspiring

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  28. Hello, I'm back. My life is empty without me being here. There will not be rest till this mystery is solveved.

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    1. Oops accidentally deleted Riitta's comment:

      I know what you mean...I check-in at least 4 or 5 times a day!

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  29. Good detective work Roland.
    A pity about that image. Inconclusive at best.
    As has been said its probably the remains of a boat.
    Let's hope the next still-if you can obtain it- is the real deal.

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  30. Just saw an episode of River Monsters where Jeremy Wade studied salmon shark with a small underwater camera drone. It looked like a tiny yellow sub with a long cable attached. Just think sending one of those down into Loch Morar's clear water! Wonder what they cost?

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