Monday 28 June 2021

A Sighting from 1987


Here is an sighting which I came across on the Unexplained Mysteries Forum which had been there for nine years - I wish I had found it earlier. The original link is here and I pull together the posts of the witness, who appears to be named Catherine Ross.

I've joined this forum to share (and hopefully receive explanatory feedback) on a sighting myself and my then husband had of something in Loch Ness in the late summer of 1987. At the time, we were both baffled and perplexed by what we saw, and acknowledged that it was something neither of us could identify rationally. Of course, we were familiar with the legendary 'monster', but the creature we viewed didn't really conform to what I've ever expected 'Nessie' to look like - it certainly did not look like a plesiosaur with a long, thin neck. Anyway, we were holidaying in Inverness and took a trip to the Loch purely for its beautiful, highland views. We were walking long a road which runs alongside the Loch in the vicinity of Dores, where we stopped at a little layby which overlooked the Loch (there was no beach, just a steep incline to the water). It was, if I recall correctly, about four o'clock in the afternoon (although it might have been earlier) and the weather was fine and dry. We were watching the water and looking across the Loch for about ten minutes when we spotted what I took to be a horse swimming off to the right. My first response was panic/worry that a horse would be out in deep water (I thought about 100ft out, although I'm awful with distances). We observed for a while, trying to work out what we were seeing, which is as follows:

A big horse's or camel's head on a thick neck sticking up out of the water with a rounded hump a little behind. The colouring looked black or very, very dark and, like a horse, there was some fuzzy, mane-like stuff sticking up and running down its back. It was moving forward, from the right of our vision to the left, fairly rapidly. We couldn't distinguish facial features or the like. After a minute or so, the head curved downwards into the water (as though diving) and a black, tube-like body followed it, as though the neck just kept going. A few seconds later a fluke-like appendage emerged and then quickly sank down, in a way that reminded me of a whale's tail going under. There was a far amount of spray and disturbed water. Whatever it was did not look like a dinosaur or plesiosaur, and was rather slimy and unpleasant looking.

As you can imagine, this experience was all very confusing, and we mentioned it to the people we were staying with in Inverness, who seemed interested but didn't take it too seriously. They thought perhaps we'd seen a deer. We never reported the sighting to anyone official (heck, we'd have had no idea how to do so) and it's just been a fairly interesting anecdote we've told family and friends whenever a programme about Loch Ness popped up on TV. We had a camera with us at the time, but, stupidly in retrospect, the moment we noticed the creature and stared (both trying to work out what we were seeing) and the moment it went under the water, all happened so quickly that it didn't cross our minds that it was something possibly connected with the mystery and worth photographing. Has anyone else ever had a similar sighting? Is there a natural explanation for this horsey creature? Any thoughts or opinions are warmly welcomed.

So perhaps August or September 1987 and Catherine is recounting events 25 years later in 2012. Naturally, some details will be less sharp when recalled after so long. My first question was where this exactly happened - near Dores, a layby with no beach below a steep incline. There is a layby with a steep incline just south of Dores, but there is a pebble beach below. If one goes any further south, grass fields begin to impose between the road and shoreline.

I wondered if she had misremembered this or foliage prevented her seeing a beach? Perhaps some local can clarify here. The replies came as others chipped in with questions and comments. In the absence of a sketch, she posted some animal photos best describing what she saw: "If anything, these pictures look closest to what we saw"

We have had a good number of eyewitnesses describe this merhorse kind of event, albeit, one should imagine these animals in the photos without ears to get a better sense of what was seen and a thinner head. She goes on to say:

Everyone we spoke with at the time was sure we'd seen a swimming deer, but even at the time I recall being convinced that wasn't what it had been. Another problem is scale - I'm not good at judging that kind of thing at the best of times, but when there was nothing else in the water, the thing could have been anything from 5ft to 10ft to 30ft - I couldn't hazard a guess. The thing I thought looked like a fluke could have been a flipper or anything - it definitely appeared at the back part of the submerging animal for a few seconds, though. I should be frank, it was an experience which at the time was perplexing and interesting, but we didn't 'do' anything about it, and I've never really thought about it that much (the trip being replete with other very natural fond memories!). It's only after reading about other people's experiences I started to think 'hey. I saw something strange back then - but it wasn't anything like what other folk have seen!'. Perhaps we did spot a monster back then, and there's a plethora of completely different looking beasties out there!

Catherine initially suggested a distance of 100 feet out, which is very close for a monster sighting. This should make length estimates easier, but what length is being described? That which is out of the water or a composite length based on parts seen throughout the event? Apart from deer, one could tentatively suggest a grey seal which has a more pronounced snout than the harbour seal, though she discounts a seal explanation further down. Some posted a drawing of an artist's impression of the cryptid cadborosaurus which reminded her of the creature, that picture is at the top of this article. 

I should also add, that nothing I've come across (and I've spent - or wasted - some time today looking this up) in terms of reported sightings of the Loch Ness monster seem to match or come close to whatever we saw. Similarly, nothing on any TV shows I've seen over the years ever sounded like it. It was nothing like a plesiosaur, or sturgeon, or whale, or dinosaur, or otter and there was no graceful swan-neck or flippers. In fact, a 'swimming deer' probably comes closer than all those things, without being right. For all intents and purposes, what we both saw and said at the time (and what I still remember) looked like nothing so much as a slimy horse, way out of its depth and with fishy bits.

On another note, I've spoken to my ex (on the subject of the Scottish trip my friends are taking) and raised the subject. From what he recalls (without my prompting), he saw a horsey head on an big eel with a fish-tail. The fish-tail is, I suppose, as similar as one can get to my memory of the whale's tail. The eel part I've never thought about, as I'm not in any way familiar with eels. Perhaps others can let us know if there are big eels with anatomy like the thing I've described (a horse shaped head and fish or whale tail).

A horse like head on an elongated eel like body with a fluke tail at the end. Again, our monster defies easy correlation with known species of aquatic animals, no matter how much we inflate their sizes to bring them up to Loch Ness Monster proportions. But what resemblance does this have to the long neck sightings which describe a head which is almost no head but rather a continuation of the neck? Indeed, some sightings are almost just like poles sticking out of the water. Are those a different part of the animal or a different stage in development of the creature? Your guess is as good as mine.

if the animal was a horse (or deer) swimming (and it would have to have been been a fairly large specimen of either), it would have to be very dark and very dead afterwards (as we watched for some time after the thing submerged and nothing reappeared in the vicinity). The picture of the swimming horse with the dolphin following was very interesting, however - as this at least captured the sense of movement, which I would describe as wormy (if that makes sense). Is it possible a horse could have been swimming and dragged down by a big eel or some other big fish with a fluke or fish-tail? As I've also said, there were no ears that I can recall either seeing or mentioning at the time. If it was a seal, it would have to have had a long, thick neck which continued to a similar, tubular body.

Catherine posted some sketches of what she saw, but unfortunately nine years on, the site hosting these images has gone AWOL and they are no longer visible. Since she has not posted for nine years and moved on, it would probably require her to do another search for the monster to perhaps find this site and then email me those sketches. But all in all, an interesting sighting by two eyewitnesses which is thought provoking and adds to the merhorse genre.

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