Friday 24 September 2021

Loch Ness Monster caught by Drone Camera?


A new image from Loch Ness with a new twist appeared in the media yesterday. By  a new twist I mean a drone video of something allegedly in the waters below. Now I use my drone at Loch Ness in the hope that I will catch footage of something interesting just below the surface, but invisible to those watching from the shore. In that light, I was very curious to see this footage. You can go this link and fast forward to about 3:45 to see something that appears to be just below the water moving towards the shore.

The media story can be found here. I found it to be an impressive looking video, so it was time to ask the owner of the video some questions and I posted it on the Zombie Plesiosaur Society Facebook group to generate views and discussion. This is where the path from impressive to not so impressive began its journey. I first made contact with Richard Mavor who posted the video and asked him some questions. The first was the important one. Could I see the original video file from the drone? His answer on the messenger box is below.

This raised a red flag right away, as will be explained later, but I am a drone user too and have plenty of 4K files from way back. In this day of terabyte storage, why would someone extract a few seconds clip and throw away the record of an important and memorable trip? It didn't make sense to me. But I dutifully asked the other questions and then put a scenario to him.

Okay, perhaps they saw nothing, but this creature was practically within biting distance. The ante was upped when it was mentioned on Facebook that two clips from the video showed the same scene, but one without the creature, the other clip being at 1:44. This was demonstrated in this comparison image with thanks to Henry Baker and James Kitwood. It may be a bit hard to see as the image is just appearing, so compare on the actual video if you prefer.

I thought one could also produce a similar split image with no creature in either frame as it was just about to appear giving us split second timing in how to begin each sequence. However, that is just my opinion and for me more was required. That led to the thought that Richard claimed he did not see it at the time and struggled to see it even now (as he said in the YouTube comments). But for me, the creature appearing out of the depths just as this random clip began without the editor knowing about it was just too much of a coincidence.

The next and biggest nail in the coffin was the fact that someone else (Jonathan  Falcone on Steve Feltham's group) mentioned it looked just like the famous Robert Rines 1975 underwater picture of a bulbous body and long neck. Here is the comparison and suggests to me the Rines photo was the template for this one and ironic that one underwater picture leads to another underwater one. It also has to be said that if you observe the rock to the left of the creature's "head", water is clearly lapping over the rock, suggesting the depth where the "head" is must be only inches!


Another and better comparison is by Sam Shearon who thinks the template is a picture of a plesiosaur which is shown below. This looks a good fit, so make your choice as to which was used, either way it's not looking good for this video.

I think that pushes us beyond the realms of coincidence and hence push this video beyond the realms of acceptable. The object moving towards the shore would seem to be a plus against inanimate object theories, but I looked hard to see any movement within the creature itself, I concluded whatever the motion of a Nessie may or may not be, we should expect some flipper, neck or tail articulation. The more unpalatable truth is the Rines photo was the basis for this hoax.

Going back to the lack of original drone files, the deletion argument is not an acceptable answer and comes straight out of the hoaxer play book. Readers may recall the previous hoaxes perpetrated by Ricky Philips and Steve Challice. When both of these people were asked for the original images, they either claimed it was deleted or something which was clearly not the raw image file was sent. The implication being the original files would give the game away. The same applies here.

Also Richard saying he and his colleagues saw nothing when this "creature" was practically upon them is not credible. So taking all these observations into account, we have to once again file this one under "fake". It was suggested Richard would eventually come clean. Perhaps he will, but the hoaxer play book again suggests he won't. Philips and Challice never confessed and my last message to Richard suggests he will not either:

I guess even though they see it as a harmless prank, they don't want to self-incriminate and be put on the record as liars as it may end up on their CVs. After all, how many people plead "not guilty" in court? The TV detective series where the criminal confesses to all at the dramatic end rarely happens in real life. All in all, these hoaxes just create problems for serious researchers. If I produce drone footage next summer with a plesiosaur looking beast moving along, sceptics will point to this video and say "Nah, another CGI!". That raises the bar of proof, but I hope people who know me would treat me differently.

Once again, we ask the question has easy digital image manipulation rendered video-still image evidence worthless? I think the answer is no, but it is clear that the vetting of such images and their owners must be thorough and use all the tools at our disposal. Fortunately, this one took less than a day to expose, so the perfect but fake image would seem to be a project beyond many. But I say that hoping not to tempt fate!



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Tuesday 21 September 2021

A Poacher's Frightening Encounter


Intrepid Aussie cryptozoologist, Paul Cropper, recently sent me some old clippings he had and this one certainly raised an eyebrow. It is a letter anonymously sent to the Scottish paper, The Sunday Post, dated 12th August 1979. Based on the letter, the actual incident is dated to about 30th July 1979. The clipping can be read above, but here is the text of the encounter below.

A Poacher's Frightening Encounter At Loch Ness

On Wednesday, a remarkable letter reached The Sunday Post. It came from an Edinburgh man who could not give his name, as he admits to being a salmon poacher for 25 years. Two weeks ago he was driving north with a friend to poach the River Conon near Bonar Bridge. At about 1:30am, they were on the A82 by the side of Loch Ness near Drumnadrochit. They pulled in at the side of the loch where, using infrared night-glasses, they confirmed salmon were jumping. The Edinburgh man got into his wetsuit and took his fishing net from the boot of his car.

The net, 100 metres long by 30-feet deep was brand new. While his mate held one end on the shore, he swam out into the loch with the other end. then began to pull the net round to a circle to trap the salmon. At that moment the net started to move up the loch of its own accord! Then he felt something brush against the side of his legs. As he became tangled in the net, he reached down to try to free himself - and felt his his hand touch a rough, horny skin! By this time, he was being dragged up the loch at a fantastic rate. His mate was also in the water, jerked off the shore by the lurch, as whatever they'd caught suddenly swam away.

Then the net snagged on a rock at the side of the loch. As it did so, the creature burst through the net, threshed the water to foam, and was gone. The poacher got out of the water as fast as he could, shaking with fear. The two men waited till dawn broke, then went back to recover the net. They found a hole in it, 20 foot long by 15 feet deep. A half-inch, lead-cored rope was burst in two places.

Eleven salmon were still caught in the net - enough to pay for the trip. "What I've written," he says "is absolutely true. I can assure you there is a creature in the loch - and there is no way I am ever going back, even in daylight".

So runs the tale and clearly, it is up to the reader whether to believe it or not as there is no corroboration of any kind. One can understand the person wishing to remain anonymous though. The precise location of the incident can only be inferred but points to near the mouth of either the River Enrick or Coiltie which empty into Urquhart Bay beside the village of Drumnadrochit. It may be that they parked near the castle grounds and scrambled downhill with their net or perhaps walked through the woods covering the bay. Either way, their net was not sufficient for the task that night.

What happened next goes one or more levels beyond what eyewitnesses normally experience. Something large brushes past you under the water, you feel rough, horny skin with your hand and the net pulls away threatening to drag you into the deeps of the dark loch. Finally, the shredded net is revealed the next morning. It sounds like something from one of those fictional Nessie movies!

The net used was likely a gill net which catches fish by their gills. Such a net may stop salmon, but it is unlikely to pose any problems to a four tonne, thirty foot carnivore with a decent set of teeth moving at speed. It would seem this monster was busy feeding on the salmon making their way to or from the bay and did not take kindly to someone else sharing. If this story is true, this man had a lucky escape.

This account has two features I had only heard of once before in other accounts. It was some months back that one could not find an account of anyone ever claiming to have touched the Loch Ness Monster. A second hand account dating back to 1922 came in to us last November which I published here. This is our first first hand account and describes a skin consistent with the rough appearance described by those close enough to see such detail.

It is also to be noted that only one story suggestive of a monster being snared in fish nets at the loch had been found prior to this and that was a story from Sandy Gray dating back to 1893 which is in this article. It is not clear if that was a first or second hand account. In that instance, the entire net was hauled out into the depths, never to be found again. Like this account, nothing large was clearly visible.

No one has ever claimed to been dragged into the loch by the monster. Clearly it is a unique account and if it is true, it is no surprise the fellow felt compelled to tell someone about it. Perhaps somewhere in Edinburgh today, in a shed or in an attic lies an old net, only used once because there is a gaping hole in it. One would be very interested to see such an item which may be located only miles from my own house.

But perhaps there is some corroboration of a sort. I checked the sightings database for anything happening at that time. The date was around 30th July 1979. As it turns out, Alistair Boyd, noted Nessie Hunter, had his only sighting of the beast on the same day in the same area of Urquhart Bay, either hours before or after this incident. His was a 20 foot long black hump, was it the same creature (below)?

Furthermore, we also learn from Rip Hepple's Nessletter No.36 from October 1979 of another sighting the next day by a Mrs. Clark and Mrs. MacLeod who saw a large snake like head from the same point at Temple Pier, moving into the bay. It seems one of the creatures was minded to stay in this area for the dates of 30th to 31st July 1979. 

Forty three years on, there is probably not much more to add to this story. The persons involved may still be alive but probably still unwilling to come out into the open. We live in hope. Either way, thanks to Paul Cropper for this fascinating story.

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