Thursday 20 June 2024

Adrian Shine's New Book


A while back Adrian told me he was intending to publish a new work and I immediately assumed it would be a larger work on Loch Ness, its legendary Monster and perhaps something biographical as regards Adrian's work around the loch and Loch Morar too. I was soon set right when he told me it was a book on Sea Serpents. The description of the book is as follows:

A Natural History of Sea Serpents, re-examines the cold-case enigma of sea serpents and monsters described by impeccable witnesses over three centuries. These reports have sometimes intrigued and puzzled the most eminent scientists of their times, yet often became the butt of popular derision. Naturalist Adrian Shine, best known for his fifty years examining Loch Ness as a ‘sympathetic sceptic’, reveals how the loch actually held the key to the greater mystery. He exonerates the integrity of most witnesses, often remarks upon the accuracy of their observations yet offers bold and radical interpretations of what they have seen.

The book digs deep into the roots of the legend and shows how expectations ‘evolved’ from those ‘serpents’ to prehistoric ‘monsters’ during the nineteenth century. The book cites over a hundred reports and contains as many illustrations as evidence for its conclusions. His findings, stemming from knowledge of ships, the sea and the true monsters living there, cover the entire spectrum of reports, giving new insight, for example, into the famous HMS Daedalus episode of 1848, the description of a very unusual creature seen by two zoologists in 1904 and the serpent seen by hundreds off the coast of New England in 1817. Nothing daunted, he investigates reports of huge serpents seen battling whales and creatures which defy our understanding of vertebrate anatomy by bending both sideways and up and down, whilst under fire by the French Navy.

This book will certainly generate debate within the cryptozoology movement, yet also challenges the theories of the preeminent sceptical writer on the subject, Dr. Robert France, who has proposed whales and other creatures entangled in pre-plastic era fishing gear as the cause of most sea serpent encounters. Nevertheless, the author shares this ethnobiological perspective and ends with a strong conservation message.

I won't preempt Adrian's conclusions, though one would expect his statement about Loch Ness being the key to the wider mystery as a big clue. Will he be closer to a Henry Lee or an Anthonie Oudemans in his assessment of this great aquatic enigma? One suspects more the former than the latter. Adrian's book will published on the 31st July and can be viewed on Amazon here.

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