Sunday 17 September 2023

Two more photographs from Loch Ness


Two pictures of something which may or may not be the Loch Ness Monster turned up on social media in the last few days. The first to look at was sent to Alan McKenna of the Loch Ness Exploration group who recently ran The Quest monster hunt weekend. It came from a Richard Wilson who had actually taken the picture in question on the 18th January 2015 just before noon. Richard filled in a sighting report for the LNE which gave the following details.

At Dores Beach, an object thought to be head like at a range of 70-100m was visible for several minutes. Richard and his wife walked away but returned fifteen minutes to find it had gone. The waters were calm and the object looked to be stationary. The appearance was of a green-gray color with a white band across its "face". There were no wakes visible caused by the object or any boats. Only one photograph is available or was taken at the time.

Alan checked the exif metadata associated with the original image and he says it looks okay. Now to all intents and purposes, the object looks like a floating sphere, which points to a buoy. That has naturally been suggested already and google image searches have already been done to find a picture of a buoy that looks the most like the one in Mr. Wilson's photograph. Of course, just because a striped flotation device can be found on the Internet, does not imply that one such item was floating in the loch about nine years ago,

The other thought that came to mind was the recent images taken by Chie Kelly which caused a stir a couple of weeks back, but which has gone quiet as we await more pictures. I say that because it also features a spherical type object with the suggestion of a lighter stripe against a darker area. But that is where the similarity ends as a cursory examination suggests they are not the same object. Having said that, it is admitted that the entirety of either object, taken over three years apart, is not seen. I would say that this image from 2015 looks more spherical than the ones from 2018, but is it a perfect sphere?

Perhaps it was the spherical similarity that prompted Richard Wilson to contact the LNE? If it is a ball buoy it has quite a mottled surface and I would expect the stripes to be better defined than this. Also, if it is a spherical buoy, it is not very buoyant as the extrapolated sphere drawing below shows with the waterline added. This suggests that less than a quarter is above the surface. Maybe that all points to a very old buoy or other flotation device? That being said, it looks a little too rough looking on the surface for a buoy. 

It would be good to get some clear images of the known buoys in the area. The fish farm just down the shore has some and there are some in Dores Bay. Note that the light is striking the object from the left. The stated date and time would give the sun's position in the chart below. I assumed the witness was on the top side of Dores beach to allow the direction of light to agree with the image, though other locations can also line up.

Alan McKenna produced a photo of a Dores buoy with a similar lighting effect. The buoy is clearly more buoyant, but what we need here is a clear picture of these buoys. Do they have the same pattern as the object photographed by Richard Wilson? If they are a plain colour like the other buoys in the loch, this is not a candidate.

Moving onto the second photograph, this was taken much more recently and was published by the Mirror newspaper on the 14th September. The witness gave her account to the newspaper, which I quote below. The last quote is from Gary Campbell, maintainer of the Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register.

A shocked woman is convinced she got a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster after spotting huge ripples in the water. Siobhan Janaway first mistook them as coming from a powerboat. But taking a second glance she noticed no vessels were on the famous loch. Local Siobhan said what she thinks was the mythical beast was moving at great speed. She took a photo – showing a large trail of air bubbles visible to the human eye. Siobhan, from Inverness - near the loch - said: “There was something causing turmoil in the water off Foyers Point. Then it coalesced into a single object moving at speed just under the surface causing at least a 20 metre white wake.”

Siobhan made the sighting just before midday on 27 August. But she has only just reported it to The Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register. It is the seventh recorded sighting of what could be the Scottish folklore creature this year. Speaking about Siobhan’s sighting, he said: "From our perspective, this is a really unusual wake which at first might look like it was caused by a powerboat. But Siobhan has confirmed no boats were nearby and that whatever was causing it was just below the surface. Maybe Nessie was just popping up to see what the fuss was all about that weekend, but of course keeping her head down at the same time.”

When I saw this image, I discounted it as the creature pretty quickly, mainly because I was there the same morning on the 27th August at the Foyers campsite on the other side of the river. I quote from my trip report published four days before this photograph.

When I arose on the Sunday morning at Foyers, I looked out to the area where the River Foyers met the loch. The heightened flow of the river was rushing down to meet the loch and there was a lot of disturbance where the two collided. The general flow of the vaster body of the loch water was from the south west up the loch. However, the river water was hitting it at almost a right angle. 

The result was a wall of resistance as the river water tried to merge with the main waters. The dynamics of this interaction led to the river water rotating in the direction of the loch water but also turning back towards the river giving us a sort of whirlpool. I have seen this phenomenon before at this location some years before. It is not very dangerous as the waters are quite shallow there. I imagined our ducks having some fun with this, jumping onto it like a fairground carousel.

The previous time I had seen this turbulence was back in 2017 and I had driven up to the top of the hill by the old Foyers Hotel where Tim Dinsdale had stayed during that auspicious week in 1960. I too looked down on the bay and saw the water in turbulence in a manner similar to the photograph above. There was another factor in play and that was the water flowing from the hills into the Foyers Power Station, there is a discharge point that ejects water into the other side of the Foyers peninsula through a narrow channel called the Tail Leat. 

This would flow rapidly into the field of view of Ms. Janaway. Here is a photo I took of that area at another time showing a lesser disturbed flow of water heading out. After torrential rain, this compressed flow can increase many times over and look like something else, such as wake disturbances apparently produced by boats. So I do not think this was the Loch Ness Monster but the image from 2015 is more open to question for me.

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