Saturday, 16 August 2014

New Photograph of Nessie?

John Gillies, who was at Loch Ness at the same time as me last week, has put up an interesting picture of an object in the loch. It is a still from a piece of footage taken on the 11th August.

The brief clip, as far as I can tell, is not the footage that contains the subsequent still image. I do not think it is a bird as I see no body. Admittedly, a passing wave can temporarily obscure the body, but the surrounding waves do not look rough enough.

Perhaps a branch protruding from a horizontally floating tree trunk? Perhaps, but again the same argument applies to the missing bird body. John did not see it at the time of filming, so it is always worth reviewing images when one returns home.

Does it have Nessie potential? I would need to see the original film before making further comment.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Nessie on Land: Morphology and Behaviour

In the next instalment of our occasional series on land sightings of Nessie, it's time to look at what kind of creature was described by witnesses. As stated before, the presumed advantage of a land sighting is that we get to see much more of the creature as opposed to when it is in the water.

When one studies water based accounts, there is sometimes the feeling that you are re-enacting the parable of the blind men and the elephant. In other words, what part are we looking at, how does it fit into the whole picture and just how do these creatures vary as individuals and over their lifetimes and natural cycles? With land sightings, we get a bit closer to the truth; but, again, not wholly there. 

By way of a panorama, a sequence of witness's drawings are presented. Of the thirty seven land sightings that this blog knows about, we only have seven original sketches, one photograph and one film drawn from them. The sixth sketch below is my own reconstructed from an earlier article from the witness' description. The one sketch not included is Alfred Cruickshank's 1926 sighting (which was never published by Tim Dinsdale). The drawings are all flipped to point the same direction for ease of comparison.

I also have no stills from the 1963 LNIB film, which is held by the Loch Ness Project (headed by Adrian Shine). It is now over 30 years since the Loch Ness Project obtained the films, photos, sightings reports and other materials from the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau. To this day, precious little of that has been put in the public domain despite the Loch Ness Project having an Internet presence for a long time.  I wonder what LNIB co-founder David James would make of that?

A. Margaret Munro 1934
B. Arthur Grant 1934
C. Mr. and Mrs. Spicer 1933
D. Torquil MacLeod 1960
E. Alastair Dallas 1936
F. Patricia Harvey and Jean MacDonald 1934
G. Ian Monckton 2009
H. Lt. Fordyce 1932

The question to ask of you, reader, is what were your expectations of this gallery of images? Did you expect (as some sceptics insist) that each sketch must vary little from the other? Or (more reasonably), you would expect some variation depending on the creature and the witness?

In terms of creatures, it is not unreasonable to expect one individual to differ from another. Male may differ from female, young may differ from old and a sexually active creature may differ from a sexually inactive one. They may even differ in colour as some other animals do. 

In terms of the witness, they are not going to give a perfect description of what they saw. They will have seen enough to convince them this was no otter or deer, but to ask for details accurate to the square centimetre is not reasonable. 

But, you may ask, what is real, what is hoax and what is misidentification? The sceptic has a simplistic answer, all fall into the second and third categories. On the other side of the debate, the argument is more nuanced and could fall into any of these categories. Of those 37 land sightings, some may well be hoax and misidentification, but which ones is a rather more difficult task.

Some of the arguments put forward by sceptics in this vein may convince their compatriots, but we are more demanding of their arguments on this blog (because, after all, they are more demanding of our arguments on their blogs).

But, of the list above, I would put a question mark over the Dallas and Fordyce cases. In the case of Fordyce, either he seriously mis-remembered his account after over 50 years or what he saw has nothing to do with the Loch Ness Monster. The pros and cons of the Dallas case have been covered elsewhere on the Internet. That leaves six cases which are actually quite uniform in their general appearance.


Moving onto particular features of the creature, we first look at limbs. Of the 37 reports available, only 11 (30%) mention them. Four of these reports describe them as webbed feet, with two of these adding the details that they were three toed. One of the reports describes them more as like pig hooves (i.e. two toed). However, three of the eleven reports describe them as flippers. The remaining limb reports do not add any further details.

Now webbed feet are not the same as flippers. So, unless one set is discounted at the expense of the other, how are they reconciled? If we take the view that the creature does indeed have webbed feet (which I tend to favour), then it is possible that these can be presented as flipper like.

In fact, an idea originally suggested by (I think) Bernard Heuvelmans, would have the webbed feet observed in an open or closed position. I think the picture below of the rear flipper of a seal conveys that idea best. It is a matter of guesswork whether the webbed feet lock into a closed position or just just relax into that position.


Moving onto the head and neck, the majority of witnesses describe it in a pretty standard or brief way, but others add more detail:

head and neck thrown over so as to rest on the creature’s back” (MacLennan 1933)

undulations were rapid and showed two or three arches” (Spicers 1933)

relatively slender neck, and it turned from side to side” (Smith 1870s)

the long neck was twisting from side to side” (MacGruer 1912)

The "floppiness" or fluidity of this structure is highlighted in these reports. In fact, enough to suggest its flaccidity is due to the absence of a spinal column in that part of the body. 

Another curious feature is mentioned in two reports separated by forty years.  It is this strange side to side movement of the creature’s neck as it headed back into the loch. I think there are two ways of looking at this. My own opinion is that it is another argument against the traditional head neck interpretation.

The reason being that if the creature has two eyes at the end of a head, then it is going to be looking straight ahead of its intended destination. Twisting the neck in other directions other than the direction of travel suggests that eyes are not a feature of the end of the “neck”.

However, there is another interpretation, and that is the idea that the monster has poor or non-existent eyesight brought on by millennia of living in dark, peat stained waters. In that case, there may be vestiges of eyes in the usual place but they are not employed in a meaningful way (apart from sensing basic light levels).

In either case, this would suggest the described neck movement is not without purpose and may have another sensory use. Is the neck being used in the same manner as a blind man’s stick to find obstacles or is other sensory data being collected based on smell, vibration, electric fields or something else?  Your guess is as good as mine.

In regard to the head and neck of the monster, one final case needs to be mentioned. That is the account Alfred Cruickshank wrote to Tim Dinsdale in 1960. Tim describes the drawing as showing a shortened neck which he states is contrary to the standard long neck model. I would agree that it would, but I would suggest it is consistent with a neck which is more retractable and pliable than has been previously thought.


Looking at the land reports in terms of other characteristics, movement is mentioned in 15% of reports. It is described variously as "waddling", "lurching", "caterpillar-like" and "jerky". The word "rapid" is also mentioned though we are talking about short distances here.

It has been suggested that the monster is incapable of movement on land due to its bulk and water-equipped limbs. If the creature does indeed have webbed feet (as mentioned above) then perhaps it is more adapted to land motion than first surmised.

The weight issue is not so big to me. A male elephant seal can weigh two to three tonnes and can move at up to 5 mph. There is no requirement for the Loch Ness Monster to be a rapid mover in any case. I will look more at this when I critique Mr. Lovcanski's explanation of the Spicers account.

In terms of times and seasons, 26% of reports are stated as being in darkness whilst 43% of reports which state the months are during the winter months of December to February. Does this signify a nocturnal creature or a creature which prefers environments devoid of tourists, boats and noise?

Be that as it may, this is a higher percentage than expected for land sightings, if the matter was merely down to misidentification and hoaxes. It could be also argued it is an anomaly for real monsters, but that really depends on your monster "model".

Does the Loch Ness Monster make any utterances? Apparently, yes, if two reports are to be believed. These describe a bark noise or a walrus like noise. A walrus can make a variety of noises, so which one was being described? Conceivably, a walrus can make a bark-like noise, but it is not certain what was meant by the witness. I do not think we should take this to mean the Loch Ness Monster is a mammal, but assuming this was a vocal noise, it would imply lungs. Then again, it is not mandatory to me that it has to be lungs (I think particularly of the proposed gas production method of the humps). Answers on a postcard ...

Furthermore, we have 9% of reports mentioning the creature carrying an object. This is normally taken to be food and casts the Loch Ness Monster in the role of land predator. I have covered this aspect of Loch Ness Monster reports in a previous article. But I would add one story which I did not add to that article. It comes from the Inverness Courier of the 20th October 1933.

The community of Benedictine nuns who once resided near Fort Augustus are now living close to me here at Holme Eden Abbey, and one of the lay sisters, an old Inverness-shire woman , says she can remember fifty years ago talk of an uncanny beast being seen in the Loch, and also that animals grazing by the loch-side disappeared.

It may surprise you to learn that there were nuns as well as monks at Fort Augustus. Both are gone now, but the sheep and cows are still here! Talk of loch-side livestock disappearing in the 1880s is perhaps less relevant now with reduced farming and increased fencing, but one wonders if the exploding population of deer provides alternate meals?


If you are a believer in a large creature residing in Loch Ness, then these accounts can help form a better picture of the monster. The most interesting aspects for me are the webbed feet and the strange neck descriptions. What kind of species possess such webbed feet? All types from mammals to reptiles to amphibians. My own idea of an amphibious like-fish still comes within that domain, though a more standard fish morphology is less likely. For example, the pectoral fins of the amphibious mudskipper do not differentiate in this way (although they are perfectly adequate for moving on land). Nevertheless, given the diversity of nature's ability to adapt, it would not surprise me if such a fish existed.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Nessie Culture at the Commonwealth Games

It's time for some Nessie culture again as the Commonwealth Games opened in Glasgow last week. It was no surprise that our favourite cryptid made an appearance at the stadium in a serpentine form with a bunnet on its head and a smile.

For something that is not meant to exist, the Loch Ness Monster continues to hold the attention of the Scottish public and how they seek to represent themselves to the world. Admittedly though, like their ancestors' Kelpies and Water Horses, the "Nessie" presented is not an exact representation of what swims in the waters of Loch Ness.

One assumes that the current Nessie presented by today's culture would nod approvingly at the equality and diversity slogans that marked the opening ceremony. I suspect the one forged by the inhabitants of the oppressed and resource-scarce Highlands would have none of it. Back then, it would feast upon your flesh in its watery depths and leave your liver to be buried by your terrified family. A bit of a difference one might suggest.

Nessie also has pride of place in the Village where the Games' competitors live. The photos below show a stone and wood creation which also acts as a bench to sit on. This stylised version of Nessie is an even greater departure from the living reality. The statue's creator, Stuart Murdoch said

I was honoured to be asked to work with Glasgow 2014 and to produce this sculpture. The Loch Ness Monster is recognised globally as an icon of this country and in this work I wanted to represent the nation’s mythology, creativity, ancient history, as well as to highlight the grit and determination shown by all the Commonwealth athletes. It is a beast that has inspired our people since before the first written word. I hope it inspires all the athletes in the village.

There is perhaps a reference to the Picts and Saint Columba's brush with the beast in that phrase "before the first written word". But how does a statue of Nessie depict "grit and determination"? I don't know, maybe because the beast continues to be reported despite the best efforts of the sceptics to consign it to the same mythological graveyard as the Boobrie, Cu-Sith and the Lavellan?

Meanwhile, back at Loch Ness, what is Nessie making off all this fuss? The cartoonist for the Daily Mail is not convinced she is altogether happy with the way she is being represented! It was bad enough being shown as a saddled up demon steed centuries ago, but a glorified tyre?

Aw. Did you see that cheap plastic Nessie they used for the Games opening ceremony?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Tuesday 24th July 1934

It is now 80 years since the date in the title, but you may ask what is the significance of it? Was there an important sighting on that day, a significant photograph taken or did some personality get up to something that has forever lived in modern Loch Ness folklore?

The answer is none of these, for the 24th July 1934 was the day in which the Loch Ness Monster was reported the most times in one day. In total, there were five claimed sightings of the monster on the busiest day of the busiest month of the busiest year ever for loch Ness Monster stories.

Now, these days, I would consider it good going if we had five reported sightings in one year, let alone one day, and this just reminds us just how manic things were up at Loch Ness those long years ago. Once can only dream of such activity now.

However, before I look at that day, I must dismiss the rival claim of Barbara Abbot. If you go to the very first entry of Paul Harrison's 2012 edition of "The Encyclopedia of the Loch Ness Monster" you will read of her claim to have seen Nessie five times at different locations in one day. The whole affair is topped off by Nessie tossing a live seal into the air, catching it in her mouth and eating it. I am not going to take this one any further.

The sources for the reports are all newspapers, The Scotsman for the 25th and 27th July 1934, the Inverness Courier for 27th July and the Northern Chronicle for the 25th July.

The sighting log begins in the morning with Duncan Cameron who reported a long neck moving at speed in Urquhart Bay toward Fort Augustus. The clipping below is from the 27th July edition of The Scotsman.

The account was also reported on the same day by the Inverness Courier, but both do not give a more precise time than the "morning". However, a reading of the other four sightings leads me to conclude this was the first sighting of the day. By 11:15am, the second sighting had occurred when a Mr. Charles Mace saw an object off Ruskie further down the loch. His account is taken from the Northern Chronicle.

The third account occurred at 11:30am a couple miles north of Fort Augustus by the crew of the steam drifter, "Sedulous". They saw a black hump like an upturned boat at a distance of 400 yards which drifted about for a period of time. This account appears in the Scotsman and Northern Chronicle and though generally in agreement, they don't seem to agree on how long the object appeared for. The Scotsman has the object "cruising about" while the Chronicle has the object visible for only a few seconds. The account below is from the 25th July edition of The Scotsman.

Moving onto our fourth account, by about noon, the object (or another object) was back at Ruskie where it was spotted by Robert C. Urquhart. Mr. Urquhart was one of the 20 watchers employed by Edward Mountain for his four week surface watching expedition. Each man was equipped with a camera and a telescope (or binoculars) in pursuit of their quarry.

Finally, our busy day for Nessie closes with the fifth sighting reported by another watcher for the Mountain expedition. This was a Mr. Ralph who was stationed at Temple Pier overlooking Urquhart Bay. His sighting occurred at 3:25pm when he saw a dome shaped object break the surface for a short time. The account below is from the Chronicle but an ink blemish on the original document obscures some of the details.

I have plotted the five reports on a map of Loch Ness, each numbered in chronological order from Duncan Cameron through to Mr. Ralph. The salient details for each sighting are given in tabular form.

Cameron      AM           Urquhart Bay     20 minutes         long neck and head with 50 yard wake
Mace            1115          Ruskie               30 minutes         eel like object with seal like head
"Sedulous"   1130          nr F.Augustus    seconds?            black hump like upturned boat
Urquhart       1200         Ruskie                5 minutes          duck-like
Ralph            1525         Temple Pier        seconds             semi circular object

Now the first question that naturally arises is whether these are all genuine sightings of the Loch Ness Monster? For the sceptic, the answer is easy. It is "No" at all times and all places, till Loch Ness freezes over again.

For the Nessie advocates, each case has to be judged on its own merits. Three of the cases involved the witness examining the object through a telescope or binoculars, which enhances their credibility (Mace, Urquhart and Ralph). Three cases also were of multi-minute duration, which again allows time to assess the object in view as to whether it is common or uncommon. Based on these factors, I would rank the sightings in order of decreasing credibility as Mace, Urquhart, Cameron, Sedulous and Ralph.

The last, by virtue of the fact that part of the account was obscured, made an assessment more difficult. It is also to be noted that one witness (Urquhart) thought the object looked like a duck. Another (Mace) thought the object looked like a seal (in part). Some sceptics when looking at these phrases will subconsciously replace the phrase "looked like" with "was" and conclude misidentification. This is despite the two objects in question being examined through a telescope or binoculars. Note that this "retranslation" of the text does not carry so well when the other phrases "looked like an eel" or "looked like an upturned boat" are examined.

The Urquhart account is the only one to mention photographs being taken. Two of our accounts involved Mountain men, so one would reasonably presume an attempt to photograph the object was also attempted in the case of Mr. Ralph. Then again, perhaps not, as his report suggests the object was in view for only seconds.

Does the Urquhart photograph exist to this day? Well, five pictures were publicised but individual details of each picture are lacking. This photograph was taken opposite Foyers but the Mountain Expedition pictures I have are inconclusive in determining if any were taken from Ruskie.

Another question that may be asked is whether these could all be the same creature? The answer to that is most likely "No". I say this because the Mace and Sedulous accounts overlap by 15 minutes but are about 8 miles apart. So, if these are monster reports, we have at least two creatures. Furthermore, one could conjecture that the two sightings at Ruskie are the same object (Mace at 1115-1145 and Urquhart at 1200).

Meanwhile, what about the two reports near Urquhart Bay? These were Cameron in the morning and Ralph at 1525. One could speculate that this could be the same creature which appeared to Cameron, swam onto Ruskie for the two sightings and then finished the day back around Urquhart Bay. Yes, I know, sheer speculation, but readers will form their own opinion.

So, it was a busy day on the 24th July 1934 and one doubts it will ever get that busy again. Meanwhile, we look forward to the next year which manages to muster five sightings over 365 days.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Meanwhile at Loch Morar

A while back, I had the pleasure of the company of Tony Healy who was visiting from Australia. He was on a trip around Britain and elsewhere to see not only friends and relatives, but places of cryptozoological interest. Previously, Tony had been to Loch Morar back in 1979 researching various cryptids for a book he hoped to publish called "Monster Safari".

With Tony's consent, this story is based on material taken from the manuscript for that book. Back in 1979, he had visited a Charles Simpson regarding a sighting of the Loch Morar Monster being briefly seen almost wholly out of the water. Quite briefly in fact as it was lurching over a strip of shingle. 

Tony sent a summary of the story to the editor of the local magazine, "West Word", which published the story in its March 2000 edition. I quote the article here.

Last summer, West Word offices were visited by Tony Healy, an Australian author who is interested in Morag and other legendary creatures. He had visited the area 21 years ago and talked then to Charles Simpson of Mallaig about Morag. Now writing a book, Tony came into the office to look at back copies, and went away with those which have mentioned Morag, to have a chat with Ewan MacDonald, who has also sighted the monster. Tony has now sent us this account, and allowed us to reproduce the photo of the painting made of the creature seen by Donald Simpson 25 years ago.

On 27th November 1975 Charles and his brother Donald (who died a few years later) were driving towards Bracorina on a bird watching expedition. The Morar River, as it leaves the loch,  flows over a narrow ridge of gravel, so that for a short distance it is only a couple of feet deep. At 3 p.m., just as they were passing that spot, Charles, who was watching the road ahead, heard his brother, who was driving, suddenly gasp and choke as if unable to breathe.

"I was terrified he'd taken a heart attack", Charles recalled, "but then he braked and pointed to the water. 'This will startle the world', was all he could say at first. When I asked what he meant he said 'Did ye not see it?"'

What Donald had seen was a powerful, 20 foot long animal which rose out of the river less than 40 feet from the car. It lurched across the gravel bar and sank into the deeper waters of the loch. The episode lasted only a couple of seconds but made a deep impression on the man — who had previously been very sceptical about the Morag legend. He said it had smooth brown skin "like a drum" and commented particularly on the muscles in its powerful hindquarters, which were evident as it hauled itself over the gravel bar.

He saw no ears or eyes but said there was what looked like a "trunk" trailing along the side of the body. Shortly afterwards, under Donald's close supervision, a neighbour executed a small watercolour painting of what he had seen. "Donald said it wasn't exactly right"' Charles Simpson explained, "but said it conveyed the general impression of what he saw.

Because the sighting was so unexpected, so startling and so brief, he couldn't even say for sure whether the "trunk" was attached to the front or the back of the creature, but it is interesting to note that long, flexible, trunk-like appendages — which are usually thought to be the snake-like head and neck of the creatures have often been reported at Lochs Ness and Morar. Because, like his brother, he was a highly respected man, an elder of the church and an authority on the wildlife of the area and because he was much too close to the massive creature to have been mistaken — I fully believe Donald Simpson's account: what he saw must certainly have been one of the legendary Loch Morar monsters.

Twelve years on from this report, Tony sent me additional notes and comments. Charles Simpson took Tony to meet Donald's widow, Jessie, who showed him the painting. The local artist was a man by the name of Willie Kirk of Mallaig whom Tony caught up with on his last visit to Loch Morar. Willie seemed a bit of a reclusive chap to Tony who had no problem allowing his painting to be put in the public domain.

Having spoken to them and others who spoke well of Donald Simpson led Tony to believe that there was no hint of deception in their tale. Add to that the fact that Charles was expert in recognising local wildlife and the creature was only forty feet away further reinforced Tony's conclusions.

As to the location of this event, Tony also sent me a photograph of the location where he thinks it all happened. As I said, it was not quite a full blown land sighting. The shingle bar was about two feet under water and so our creature technically never fully left the water.

By using Google Maps, the location can be confirmed via StreetView below. The first map shows Loch Morar in relation to Loch Ness. The second map circles the location of the sighting.

The witness said he was only about 40 feet from the creature which is borne out by the next StreetView picture which shows the road they were travelling on beside the loch.

The thing that has to be said about the creature depicted in the painting is that it is moving from right to left as it hauls itself across the shingle bar out of the River Morar into Loch Morar. Anyone looking at the painting with a Nessie mindset would presume the trunk like object is a long neck and hence the beast is lumbering from left to right. This is not the case, which may present a bit of a conundrum, although the rapidity of the sighting does allow for some uncertainty as to how this appendage actually attached itself to the body. However, if one presumes it is the tail rather than the neck (which has by then submerged to the left), then the image perhaps becomes clearer.

Using a formula mentioned here before, in terms of witness credentials, proximity and clarity, it is a good report. The one thing that one would wish more for is the duration of the sighting, which is mere seconds. The longer, closer or clearer the sighting, then the less chance of misidentification.

But, then again, what kind of creature could be misidentified? Once again, the ubiquitous seal may pop into people's minds, but apart from being 20 feet long and brown in colour, there is another obstacle to that theory and it is a physical obstacle.

I am talking about the hydroelectric dam just up the River Morar which has been in place since 1948. On that basis alone, seals can be excluded. But, of course, what the dam prevents coming in, it also prevents going out. Is Mhorag forever stranded in Loch Morar? If Mr. Simpson's description of "powerful hindquarters" is accurate, then perhaps not.

What the painting conveys is a bit of a mystery to me. That a degree of inaccuracy is acknowledged by the witness adds more uncertainty. The most interesting quote refers to the "muscles in its powerful hindquarters, which were evident as it hauled itself over the gravel bar". It would seem that Charles Simpson saw enough to see impressive musculature in action.

But "powerful hindquarters" is not a term I readily equate with lake monsters. It is something I would more relate to the lion crouched ready to race after its prey or something else more land-bound. Indeed "powerful tail" or "powerful rear flippers" would be more appropriate terms for lake cryptids. But, this is not so much a mystery if the amphibious attributes of the Loch Ness Monster are assigned to the Loch Morar Monster.

What does seems certain, though, is that a large, powerful creature was seen entering Loch Morar nearly forty years ago. It is also about forty years since a book was written on Mhorag. Perhaps Tony or someone ought to do an update on Nessie's famous relation?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

A Story from a Reader

One of the blog's regular readers emailed me an experience he had at Loch Ness some years back. J.S. (as I shall call him) lives in Scotland and was at Loch Ness over ten years ago on a camping trip. I quote to you what he initially told me:

Hi Roland nice to meet you by the way, and I am more then happy to inform you in relation to my personal Loch Ness experience it happened some years ago 2002/2003? One early morning I came back from the toilet block walking in the direction of my tent when I heard several fish jump which I recognized having done a lot of fishing with my father back in Holland.

Seconds later there was this huge splash, and I mean Roland a really enormous disturbance at the surface of the Loch which sounded as if a whale came out of the Loch and splashed back in again followed by waves crashing onto the shoreline, sadly I could not see a thing due to the fact I was blinded by the camping flood lights, was an experience I will never forget I tell you,.. a personal deduction of this experience tells me that what ever it was was chasing ( hunting ) these jumping fish, what do you think .... 

Further enquiries placed the event in late August or early September of 2003 at a time of about 1 or 2 in the morning with cloudy but dry weather. This audible encounter happened at the Invermoriston Caravan and Camping site which is circled on the map below.

Now, this is more of a "hearing" than a "sighting" and such encounters are rare to say the least. Given the time and month, I would doubt if J.S. would have seen much at all out on the loch. I have myself seen fish jumping out of the water ahead of what may have been a silent and invisible predator. Not necessarily a Loch Ness Monster, but certainly bigger than the fish in retreat. That may have been the closest I got to seeing our elusive monster.

Be that as it may, a large splash normally requires a proportionally large dose of energy which would require a combination of a fast and/or heavy object. What could J.S. have heard?

The ubiquitous seal may be trotted out at this point. Seals are the second largest animals that may be found in the loch. However, when they are sometimes suggested as an explanation, one wonders if there was one actually in the loch at the time of the given report? After all, they only turn up in the loch perhaps once every two years when they pursue salmon or trout from the Moray Firth. They normally end up getting shot. So it is no surprise that the times the loch has no seal in it easily outweigh the times there is one or two in it.

Or perhaps someone was just dumping something in the loch, or "fly tipping" as we call it? I would only say that the roadside is quite close to the lochside at the campsite in question, so the dramatic noise one would get from an old, useless cooker tumbling into Loch Ness from a high road point is lost at this particular location.

But I get the impression here that J.S's noise was out there in the loch rather than one originating near the shore, especially when he saw the waves come rolling into the camp shore (he had gone to the shingle shoreline to witness these as his vision got back to normal about a minute later).

If J.S. did hear our loch leviathan then that gives me encouragement. Not just because Nessie again has made her presence known in recent years, but because it occurred in the early hours, a time of day which I believe the monster is more active in (as regular readers will know from my infra-red work).

As ever, comments and interpretations are invited from other readers.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

A Review of Holiday's Great Orm Of Loch Ness

I am on holiday in Cornwall just now amongst such reputed cryptids as Morgawr, Owlman and the Beast of Bodmin Moor. If I catch a sight of any of them, I will be sure to let you know!

Meanwhile, I thought I would post an old e-clipping I found on a recent library visit. It is a review of Ted Holiday's book, The Great Orm of Loch Ness. The fascinating thing is that the review appeared in The Quarterly Review of Biology published by the University of Chicago Press (Vol.44, No.4 Dec 1969).

Amidst other reviews on books such as Cybernetics Simplified and Current Topics in Radiation Research we find a book on the Loch Ness Monster.  One wonders if such a thing would ever happen again in a scientific journal for a similar work? 

The reviewer was a Jane Oppenheimer, who I believe was a renowned embryologist who died in 1996. She reviewed more than 400 publications and looked for the following in a publication:

She respected others who were erudite and had little patience for those who lacked rigour in scholarship. Colleagues who were creative and imaginative as well as rigorous gained her admiration. Perhaps Holiday's lateral thinking struck a chord with here. 

She is careful not to admit to the existence of one or more large, unknown creatures in Loch Ness; but neither does she deny such a thing. However, Holiday's pursuit of the undeniable picture or film gets short shrift from the zoologist who says their community expects more than that. I would myself expect nothing less from them and smile when I see sceptical comments on this blog demanding better pictures. 

However, she ends on a positive note by agreeing that an open mind is required. If that is all that the scientific community showed, that would be enough for me.