Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Nessie Review of 2021

It is time to look back on the year past and so let us get straight into the recorded sightings via Gary Campbell's sightings register. This records six sightings for the year which compares to eight in 2020 and thirteen in 2019. Now not every account will turn out to be the monster, let everyone judge and be persuaded in their own mind. In fact, to this day, there is no such thing as a "confirmed" sighting as there is no agreed benchmark by which to measure such accounts and who would be the judge that chooses the ruler to perform the measurement? In my mind there are sightings that are beyond my reasonable doubt, but that will not be the case for others.

I would categorize four as single humps, one as a water disturbance and the last was detected underwater on sonar. Three had photographs and one included a sketch. The quality of the photographs are not good and again exemplify the problem of photography at the loch with mobile phone cameras - assuming these were the devices in use. The image below taken by Thomas Dobinson on the 30th July drives home the point.

The witness states that the dark coloured object below the castle was about two hundred yards away and the size of a dog. One may churlishly ask what kind of dog - a great dane or a chihuahua? If we assume a typical mutt then we are talking about two to three feet across. If we triple this to represent the six to nine feet of hump that would break the surface for an eighteen to twenty seven foot monster, even that would not look great on such a photograph - and this is a distance one may expect some clarity. But, no, assuming these estimates are correct, even a close up of a large creature may not cut the mustard due to the poor lens and aperture involved.

Remember, mobile phones are for close up friends and family or huge buildings, mountains and so on. I do not think I have seen a decent defensible picture of the monster since 2016 and the Kate Powell fin-like object. Before that we may go back to Bill Jobes and Jonathan Bright around ten years ago. Have mobile phones made the situation worse as people ditch decent cameras for them? I don't know, but it is a subject for discussion.

One report that I rank higher was by Colin Veacock on the 30th July. I have read the reports in the media, but I know Colin from his previous postings as a Nessie fan on Steve Feltham's Facebook group. Colin said the newspaper reports got various things wrong, so I lifted his own account given in fragments and reproduce it here.

I was scanning up and down the loch north of the castle when on my third pass I noticed this object about two thirds of the way across the loch. It was suddenly just there. I didn't, as one site put it, see a prehistoric monster surge out of the water! At first I thought it was small but later when the Jacobite Warrior passed I got a better idea of scale. It was two feet high, ten to twelve foot long and tapered away into the water. I came to that estimate by judging it was the same size as the handrail at the rear of the Warrior. A black dinghy speedboat passed close but it never moved. An Indian couple parked on my right followed my directions and gave me a thumbs up indicating he could see it. Then the clouds broke bathing the opposite shore and hills in bright sunlight and I lost sight of it in the reflections in the water. I didn't, as one site said, see it plunge into the peaty depths, I just lost sight of it.

... I think it was an animal but not prehistoric. Got to admit though, while watching it I was hoping the classic neck and head would pop up.

... I've always thought that 'Nessie' is something completely knew. Something we haven't come across before due to it spending most of its time in the deep water. I also think its the same species of animal spotted in other bodies of water at that latitude.

... It was just too far away. It was the same size as the handrail at the rear of the Jacobite Warrior. Besides which, every time I looked away it took me a while to relocate it. I should say as well, I thought it was much smaller until the boat came along and gave me a better understanding of the scale and distance involved.

Colin provided a sketch shown here. When I saw this, I thought to myself, where have I seen this before? The high end and the tapering hump evoked a memory of another sighting separated by decades but connected by similarity. The answer came from Rupert T. Gould a mere eighty eight years before and the witness was a Mr. W. D. H. Moir near Inchnacardoch Bay on the 26th August 1933 about 9:15pm. The text from Gould is below.

Mr. Moir was walking from Fort Augustus along the road running towards Port Clair, which skirts Inchnacardoch Bay. Just after he had passed Cherry Island, he noticed a " powerful wash" in the Loch, and observed an object heading to pass close to the far side of the island. He took it at first to be a boat hurrying for the Canal lock - whose gates, at that time, were closed at 9 p.m. As to the visibility, he remarks : "At the time . . . the sun was setting behind the hills, casting bright reflecting lights high over the Loch and the tree-tops, while the water was dead calm."

The object passed "dangerously close" to the far side of Cherry Island, and headed into Inchnacardoch Bay. By this time Mr. Moir - who, having heard no sound of oars or engine, had concluded that it was not a boat - had turned round and was walking back towards the bay. When within the bay it slowed down and appeared to roll from side to side, causing a "rolling wash" which spread until it reached the shore. Suspecting that he was looking at X, he left the road and went down towards the shore for a closer view - managing to get within, as he estimates, 200 yards of it. ...

Two points chiefly surprised him - X's colour, and its size. He had gathered, from previous accounts, that X was black, or almost so - whereas it appeared to him to be brown, "with a tendency to changing colours of a lighter nature, nearer the surface of the water." And he estimated the length of the portion visible to him at 40 feet. Somewhat resembling an upturned boat, it rose moderately sharply to a height of some 5 feet above water at about the same distance from the rear end, and then sloped gently down towards the front ... As he saw neither head nor tail, he concluded that the total length could scarcely be less than 50 feet. [He had X in view for four to five minutes.] He started to walk back towards Fort Augustus; hoping to get a lift on the way, collect his camera, and return to photograph X. After he had gone some distance, he noticed that the time was 9:30, and decided that the chance of getting a photograph was remote. He therefore returned  - but discovered, on coming in sight of the bay, that X had disappeared. 

Two differences between 1933 and 2021 was that Moir's creature was more than three times longer. The other was that the Moir creature was moving whereas Colin's did not seem to budge an inch. Note that the Monster continues to surprise. If one had been asked to guess what direction the creature would move, you may have said right to left as you assumed the raised portion was the shoulders and the back receded down to the submerged tail. But, no, it heads off tapered end first. Would Colin's object have moved in a similar fashion? 

The length to height ratio of the Moir monster was 8:1. Colin estimated his as between 10:1 and 6.7:1 which averages to 8.3:1  - very close to the Moir account. As stated above, Colin was less in accord with the journalists who typed up his account:

Since this sighting the reporters have driven me to the point of madness. Only one swapped an email with me. The rest just exaggerated and right out lied about what I saw. Seems if you're a reporter and you're going to write up a piece on Loch Ness, you either exaggerate and blow it out of all proportion, or you ridicule it and belittle the sighting - but what they don't do is just honestly report the facts.

One argument of the sceptics is that journalists take mundane accounts and spice them up to monstrous levels. In other words, the original account would have been easily explicable if known. It is an attempt to tar and brush many an eyewitness story in one sweeping generalization. As we can see here, they do exaggerate, but the original account is good enough to avoid simplistic dismissal.

Indeed, Gould himself re-interviewed many a witness who were previously published and found them still to be noteable accounts. One final observation is that the Veacock and Dobinson accounts happened on the same day separated by three and a half hours and perhaps less than a mile apart (perhaps Colin could verify that). Maybe that is just coincidence or perhaps it lends mutual credibility. 

The sonar image was discussed in this blog only a few weeks ago at this link. It is a good account by Benjamin Scanlon allied with the boat captain, Mike Bell. I discussed the matter with Mike and felt it was an object of some considerable dimensions, though what exactly those were and what the actual morphology of the object was were beyond the capability of the sonar device. I assume that we will be getting a few more of these images in the year ahead of us.

The third class of account now merits its own section on Gary's sightings website and that is the genre of webcam video images. Gary numbers them at ten for the year compared to five local sightings and one sonar scan. Five were by regular webcam watcher Eoin Fagan, two by Kalynn Wangle, and one by Weiming Jiang, Matt Reddick and Roslyn Casey. Now the regular charge is that these images are just specks of not real use. I wouldn't disagree much with that, but when I checked the three photos we have of the local surface sightings, they were no better, perhaps worse!

That's not the fault of any person, they can only work with the tools they have. But perhaps some hope is at hand as Steve Feltham is looking into installing a webcam from his home on Dores Bay or perhaps somewhere close by. Obviously as close to the loch as possible is high on the list, but I would also suggest a bit of elevation as well and a good HD resolution. Other higher cost questions may be infra red night vision, slow panning to cover more loch and zoom. I have no idea how feasible all of that is.

So much for the sightings log, what about research on this blog? The main breakthrough was finding the Sidney Wignall aerial film of something in Loch Morar. It took a bit of digging and luck but I got some images out there and the object itself (below). However, I concluded I was as ambiguous as Sidney was as to the object's identity. For now, I will say tree log, and hope to investigate it on site in the year ahead.

The other area of investigation this year was the location of the famous 1934 Surgeon's Photograph. I take the view it is a fake, but where from? In my article, I hesitated an educated guess that clues in the story and picture suggest it may have been taken at a quiet spot in Foyers Bay. That opened a slight possibility that something of the model may still be recoverable under ideal circumstances. To that end, I headed there in July with my metal detector. You can see me in action below trawling the shallows.

The trouble was I picked up so much metal thrown in over the decades, any trace of the Christian Spurling submarine may be lost in the noise - if there at all! It was a speculative punt and a bit of fun to boot. At the loch in general, I published two trip reports which are here and here. I also did a couple of interviews for crypto-oriented podcasts and you can see what else I wrote by clicking through the 2021 article history to the bottom right of the blog. The other event of note was an unwanted one in the death of water cryptid researcher, Scott Mardis, who died too young this year and all I can say again is rest in peace, mate. You will be missed.

In summary, I wrote 34 articles this year which is actually an all time low of one every 11 days. The best was 104 posts in 2012 or twice every week. You may well ask if I am getting bored with the subject or am finding less to write about. Well, I am actually concentrating more on other subjects non-Nessie related which has had an effect. But there is a bit of truth in the less to write about category. As I enter the thirteen year of this blog and 787 articles on, the majority of the major photos, films, sightings and hoaxes have been covered.

But some have been revisited this year, as mentioned above for the Surgeon's Photograph and also the AAA sighting by John McLean from 1938 as new information bolstered that account. In fact, I hope to start 2022 with an article on one of the classic sightings yet to be covered here. New sightings will obviously continue to come in and personal research will continue as it looks into things old and new.

With that I will wish all readers  prosperous 2022.

The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com