Sunday 9 October 2022

Loch Ness Investigation and Loch Ness Exploration

I was back up at the loch last month with various intentions on my mind. The first and perhaps most important task was trap cameras. As readers may recall, these automated monster hunters gaze over the loch waters, strapped to trees waiting for something of noteworthy dimensions to pass in front of them. They operate on a twenty four hour basis as they switch to infra-red mode as night descends.

Now admittedly, having reviewed the night time shots from past excursions, the quality of them is not that great as the only objects visible tend to be any flapping branches right beside the camera or rain, as shown below. Unless the creature came right up to sniff one of these cameras, one wonders if it would register at all at night. However, the sequence of lunar pictures below would give us a sensational monster pose if it decided to surface under the moon shine. Actually, we have a claimed sighting of the monster in such circumstances you can read here. Well, for the time being I will leave the timer on 24 hour duty.

The daytime shots had the usual selection of boats, paddle boarders, kayakers and the odd bird, which at least shows these cameras are doing their job. I had left one camera ticking away over the summer period as the risk from hoards of tourists finding a camera and deciding it was theirs is too great. But it was still there when I came back for it. I am still going through the many images of waves. It was noticeably warmer than when I was there for the same time period last year. The foliage was more extensive and the flies were annoyingly greater in number. Definitely keep the trousers and long sleeves on when walking through that stuff lest a tick alights on you!

After that I drove over to meet up with Adrian Shine at the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre. I had asked him if I could view some of the old Loch Ness Investigation Bureau films from the 1960s that had been scanned and digitised. To reprise, the LNIB had set up various camera stations around the loch from 1962 onwards armed with telephoto lenses and 35mm film. The hope was obviously that the creature would stray into the view of one of these rigs and convincing evidence would be obtained.

As we know, no game changing film was recorded. The best known was the 1967 sequence taken by Dick Raynor, but the rest have never been seen. Back in 1976, Roy Mackal reviewed some of these films for his book, "The Monsters of Loch Ness". He mentions ten films and labelled them as films F8-F11, F13, F16-F18 and F21-F22 taken between 1962 and 1969. Unlike the Raynor film, none of these were classed as "positive evidence" but rather as inconclusive, birds or waves. 

With all that in mind, we pulled up some chairs at the Drumnadrochit Hotel and Adrian ran the videos in his laptop. The sequence of films ran for some ten minutes, with some being repeated or zoomed in. This was interspersed with the odd footage of LNIB people. I am not sure how many of the ten were shown, perhaps no more than five. One of them was certainly the Raynor film, but it was impossible to line up what films we saw against the Mackal list above. It seems the film canisters were not labelled with the necessary information. Indeed, trying to identify the locations by markers on the far shores would have helped somewhat, but this proved difficult as well, especially with the passage of up to sixty years,

The quality of the films varied but were all generally poor and what was in the water looked like either water disturbances or water fowl. Quite frankly, they didn't look much better than other inconclusive videos seen over the years and decades. One film I am sometimes asked about is film F10 taken on June 6th 1963 and claimed as the only film of Nessie on land. The observers reported that a dark cylindrical object took to shore on a beach and lay in the shallows at a distance of about 2.25 miles. A long neck and head were observed for about half an hour.

I am fairly certain that film was not on the video run I saw and so I cannot speak to that or the others I did not see. Obviously, one has to point out the stupendous distance, well above what is normally stated in eyewitness reports and one would see next to nothing at that range with the naked eye. Using binoculars of 8x magnification would bring the object to an apparent distance of about 450 metres. The specification of the camera telephoto lends described by Mackal suggests a 9x magnification or an apparent distance of 400 metres but with attenuation of details.

Having said that, JARIC and a panel of experts examined the film but the great distance precluded all but acknowledging that the form of the object generally agreed with the observer testimony. I would imagine this is the film one would want to see above all the others, but it would be brave or foolish to state without reservation that it was the Loch Ness Monster being filmed. Some other matters were discussed, such as the Dinsdale film and the interesting sonar contact of September 2020 which will form an article in its own right. A final matter was discussed which shall be expanded upon in another future article.

Having taken my leave of Adrian, the second part of the article title becomes relevant as I met up with Alan McKenna from Edinburgh who heads up the Loch Ness Exploration (LNE) group. In the spirit of the old Loch Ness Investigation, Alan's new venture invites people to join him at Loch Ness for various surface watches as well as any other observational techniques that modern technology offers. You can find the Loch Ness Exploration group on Facebook at this link

We were going to head off to the next LNE observation spot beyond Temple Pier having mentioned my meeting with Adrian. Alan said he would love to meet him and, lo and behold, Adrian appeared in the distance and the rest is history. We spent a good hour or so discussing various aspects of the monster story, including the matter of sonar and the trials of surface observations. A couple of guys from New Zealand joined in who said they were also cryptozoologists investigating such matters down under. 

Having concluded the conversations, I was right out of time and had to pick up my family in Inverness who had hitched a ride for a day trip up north. I took them for some sightseeing around the loch before heading back south. Did I see Nessie that day? No, nothing broke the surface but all in all it was a good day amongst the people of the great Loch Ness mystery.

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