Saturday, 20 December 2014

Loch Ness Websites

Many websites carry a section which gives links to other websites covering their primary subject. I thought I would take this opportunity to survey the Loch Ness Monster web scene. As it turns out, there is not a lot out there in terms of dedicated websites. You will find a lot more websites discussing the Loch Ness Monster as part of wider remit on mysteries, cryptozoology, the paranormal or rational scepticism.

Despite that, Loch Ness websites are a diverse array. Some are dedicated to the monster, some are sceptical and others try to maintain a neutral position. Others are regularly updated whilst others haven't changed in years. But, in general, there is not much in the way of ongoing debate and analysis, unless you include discussion forums.

There is a multiplicity of discussion forums which carry lake cryptid sections or threads in amongst their formats. However, there has been a trend in recent years to see some of these conversational genres move over to Facebook. The quality of these varies and tends to be dominated by sceptics.

There is also a subclass of website which I call "recycling websites". They do not add much in the way of new or interesting content and just copy other websites' images or items. I don't include these and neither do I include sites which are generally cryptozoological in nature and have a section on Nessie; unless it is noteworthy.

I am sure there are others out there, let me know if you find a worthy candidate.

Wikipedia: Loch Ness Monster

Okay, it is just one page, but it belongs to Wikipedia. I suspect it is the most visited webpage on the Loch Ness Monster as all manner of people go to it for the basic lowdown on the creature.

Legend of Nessie

The goto website for Nessie information since the late 1990s. Here you will find the basic facts on Nessie as well as extended information on sightings, films, photos, people, the loch and its various deceptive moods. One of my favourite sections used to be the forum, "Nessie's Chatterboard". Unfortunately, the forum was shut down years ago due to it being abused by certain people. Some things never change.

As far as I can tell, the website has not been updated for over three years, but that doesn't change the historical usefulness of its information.

Nessie on the Net

A satirical, spoof website on the monster which doesn't take itself too seriously. Run by Mikko Takkala, it is largely lightweight, but its popularity is maintained by the webcam it runs for remote monster hunters.

Loch Ness and Morar Project

An information packed website on Loch Ness and its history run by Adrian Shine and the Loch Ness Project. The archive room has many useful papers on non-monster work done at the loch such as ecology, geology and biology. Adrian is sceptical (but open minded) of monsters, so various themes run through the website based on that position.

Loch Ness Investigation

Another sceptical website run by ex-LNIB man, Dick Raynor. In some regards, it is similar to the previous website, but there is more emphasis on photographic work and the various phenomena that deceive observers at the loch. I don't agree with some of the conclusions made on the site, but this and Adrian's website provide a useful counterbalance against getting too monster biased.

Nessie Hunter

This is the website of long term monster hunter, Steve Feltham. It is not a comprehensive website on Nessie, but rather a personal perspective on the loch, the monster and the hunt from Steve's twenty year perspective.

Nessie's Grotto

This is one of the older websites, run over that time by Lois Wickstrom and Jean Lorrah. It is a compendium of various items of interest, such as people sending in their webcam snapshots, occasional newsletters, interviews and Loch Ness facts.

The Loch Ness Giant Salamander

A specialised website by Steve Plambeck dedicated to his theory that Nessie is a giant salamander. Steve occasionally updates his website with updates on that theory as well as general observations on the loch and its monster.

Tony Harmsworth

Probably the most vociferous of sceptical websites. Tony is the ex-curator of the Official Loch Ness Exhibition and has lived near the loch for over thirty years. The website covers various aspects of the monster in a dismissive manner, and you're left in no doubt as to what Tony no longer believes in! You can read his book, "Loch Ness Understood", at the site.

Ed Skoda

Ed Skoda is a cryptozoological sceptic, but his research has allowed him to compile an interesting "storyboard" of Australian newspaper items from 1933-1934 which chart the progress of the Loch Ness Monster from the point of view of the Australian media.

Gary Campbell's Sightings Register

Gary Campbell has put together this website to collate as many reports of the Loch Ness Monster from St. Columba right up to the present day. Most are taken from Henry Bauer's book, but Gary has added to that list since 1985 and the last report is from 20th May 2014. Gary has the running total at 1,067, but I am pretty sure the final number is north of 1,500.

As an aside, when I attempted to access Gary's site, my ISP blocked it as a site that contains content that falls into the category Violence & Weapons! No idea why that is happening.


But websites come and websites go. People die, people get ill and people just lose interest. So, there is a subsection of websites which are now defunct but which are preserved via Internet archiving agencies. I am glad to say my own blog is now being archived by WayBack Machine, so when I am long gone, hopefully there will still be people reading these articles.

You can learn more about these extinct websites here.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Loch Leven Monster

In the course of my cryptozoological studies, I came across the newspaper clipping below. It is from the Scottish Sunday Mail dated September 9th, 1934 and tells of the strange tale of a beast seen in Loch Leven.

Is there a Loch Leven "monster"? Has the Argyllshire loch become tired of the overwhelming popularity of Loch Ness and decided to claim a little of the limelight for itself? 

On several occasions during the past few days a strange creature has been seen at various points in the loch, appearing for a few minutes on the surface and then diving with a peculiar motion. And one night it appeared for close on half an hour at the head of the loch.

Two men and a group of boys, all of Kinlochleven, watched the "monster's" activities. It appeared about half-past eight; seeming to come up the loch and chasing, they alleged, a couple of seals which were swimming furiously ahead of it.

The strange creature had a great oval head, joined by a long neck to a glossy black body, with a speckled grey breast. There were three humps showing over a foot out of the water.

The tail was long and pointed, and the total length of the creature was estimated at about 20 feet. When it dived, the humps appeared in succession and the tail was thrown up high into the air.

You've heard of "flash mobs" and this story has the feel of a "flash monster". We have never heard of a monster in Loch Leven before and it seems we never hear of it again afterwards. When I was researching my book on loch monster folklore, this loch did not appear on the mythological radar and (as far as I know) no reports of such a creature have appeared since then.

It's a bit like the "flash sturgeons" and "flash seals" beloved of sceptics back at Loch Ness. They appear from nowhere to explain troublesome eyewitness reports and they disappear just as fast in a puff of logic with no indication whether these sea going creatures were ever actually in the loch at that time!

Part of the explanation for this lies in the fact that Loch Leven is an open loch which opens into the sea loch of Loch Linnhe which feeds into the Atlantic Ocean. Loch Linnhe has more of a reputation for monsters with claimed sightings in the 1940s, 1954, 1964 and 1967. 

The point being that a loch which has easy access to open sea is not so easily regarded as a monster bearing loch. However, the complex of lochs which run over the Great Glen Fault have always posed to me the question as to whether their connectedness has cryptozoological implications.

To wit, each one from Linnhe to Lochy to Oich and to Ness each has its share of monster stories. Sceptics may conclude Loch Ness stories merely propagate like seismic shocks down the fault line. Cryptid researchers speculate as to whether the creature seen in Loch Linnhe is related to the one in Loch Ness.

Loch Leven seems a bit player in this drama, but it had its brief moment of fame back in 1934 as Loch Ness Fever reached a crescendo. The report itself has a "Nessie" feel to it with that long neck and multiple humps. It is one of several reports over that period and suggests something was in the loch for a short period before heading back out to sea forever.

Where it differs is the creature going after a couple of seals. That kind of story is less likely in land locked Loch Ness and makes us wonder what it was. Killer whales have been seen off the west coast of Scotland and would certainly go into a loch after seals. This blog covered such a story from the 1950s a while back.

That would mean mistaking the long neck and oval head for the orca's dorsal fin, a mistake not easily made and what do those three humps signify? Perhaps a line of seals chasing other seals? But what about that long neck and oval head? At this point, some eyewitness sketches would be useful, but we are left to guess what exactly was seen over that period in late 1934.