Monday, 3 July 2017

Further Thoughts on an Itinerant Nessie

Further to the last article, people had expressed doubts about large creatures getting in and out of the loch, or at least in such a manner as to not go unnoticed. Now, I would say that one such situation giving the opportunity of "escape" (or whatever motivates these creatures) is after or during periods of rain which flow into Loch Ness from the main tributaries feeding into it and then flowing downhill via the River Ness into the sea.

Do these raised water levels present a monster's opportunity to migrate or emigrate? I would say so, indeed two of the accounts from the previous article state that the river was in spate. The most interesting account for me was the George McGill sighting which took place right in the centre of the town of Inverness. I quote from page 173 of Holiday's "The Great Orm of Loch Ness":

During August 1965, there was a period of heavy rain lasting for several days. The loch rose and the River Ness was in spate. A salesman, Mr George McGill, had business in the Y.M.C.A. building, Bank Street, Inverness. At 11.45 a.m. the rain was so heavy that Mr McGill stood in the doorway with a friend, watching it.

Mr McGill wrote to me: 'Just as we got to the door I looked across the River Ness. What I saw was a large, thick, ridged neck looping out of the water. The height of the neck above the water would be about four feet six inches and it was about eight inches in diameter. There was a disturbance where the neck re-entered the water and another disturbance some distance to the rear. What it was I cannot say but it was not a fish. It was very unusual and I have never seen anything like it before. I'll try to draw what I saw.'

Mr McGill's drawing shows what appears to be the neck of a smallish Orm which seems to be going down-river on the flood water. The surprising feature of this sighting is that it took place near the middle of Inverness.


As to the objection that the creature should have been seen by more people, one should take into account the heavy rain that took place during the sighting. Such conditions are going to drive people indoors and away from the river, not towards it. That does not preclude others seeing it and not reporting it (some people seem to think witnesses will always come forward, they don't). A further investigation of the archives of the time may reveal more, but that is for another time.

However, if you want to know about the "mother of all spates", this happened on January 1849 and saw devastation across the areas the river flowed through. The water levels of Loch Ness rose by an amazing fourteen feet and the Caledonian Canal and River Ness merged into one channel at some points. The report on those troubling times are shown in the contemporary clipping from the Inverness Courier below.




Now whether our favourite monster took advantage of this inundation is unknown. The sightings record for that period of time is sparse to say the least. Furthermore, one should not presume that the migrant or emigrant is somehow waiting patiently at the top of the loch or at the estuary of the river for the next spate in order to make its move. It's all about chance and opportunity, not every spate leads to monster movements and perhaps the majority just happen during normal weather. 



The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com

25 comments:

  1. Another reason to entertain the "itinerant Nessie" concept is besides lack of regular/more sightings and sightings of multiple creatures at one time, it would also help explain the apparent lack of dead bodies...

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    1. It would certainly reduce the odds of finding one.

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    2. Sorry, increase not reduce!

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    3. On the other hand if the idea is that the weirs are passable only after heavy rain, you would expect old and enfeebled Nessies to occasionally be found stranded.

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  2. Is the drawing available?

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    1. Sadly, another Nessie item lost in the mists of time. It will be amongst Ted Holiday's archive of letters, etc, but who knows where that is and why it must be locked away in this online, digital age.

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  3. With rainfall heavy enough to raise water levels much higher very few people would be about town and outdoors to glimpse a possible Nessie in the River Ness. Watch people in heavy rains and they just want to get from the car to building or building to building without distraction, often head down and quickly moving. It's definitely possible a brief single sighting could be made right in Inverness.
    Floods are just another variable involved in this mystery - remember there is an entire sea beside Inverness and a river connected to it. How much of the ocean floors are truly mapped? It's a damn big ocean!
    Raise the water levels on the river and on a moonless dark night in the late hours many creatures could find their way in undetected. Creatures possibly juvenile that continue to grow after adapting to the Loch.

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    1. There are busy roads and bridges spanning the river too though. Not to mention houses, offices and bars alongside it.

      I have always found it unlikely a large animal could negotiate the river Ness undetected.

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    2. Well, you would be right, it has been seen multiple times on the River Ness!

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    3. that Elasmosaurus could swim right by you having a jar outside a pub, in 6 feet of muddy water and you wouldnt notice a thing.

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    4. I don't think the creature is an elasmosaurus. I refer you to my previous article:

      http://lochnessmystery.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/the-plesiosaur-theory.html

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  4. Hey McMurphy you are right, odds are anything big would be seen by crowds of people, I have walked the length of the river Ness and it is shallow of course. Only on the rarest of occasions would it be possible for a large animal to get by.
    However if the river Ness was flooded and it was the middle of the night during a heavy rainstorm there is a chance. At 2-4 am during a rain storm in flooded water it is possible. What if the creature is of dark colour making it difficult to see? How many people would be watching the river Ness in pouring rain around 3am for example ?

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  5. A creature leaving Loch Ness via the river in spate is not that outlandish a theory, however a large creature battling its way upstream while the ness is in spate is paddling in the waters of fantasy.

    Unless, of course we have a homing nessie ?

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    1. That is why I included "after" in the phrase "after or during periods of rain". HIgher than usual water levels but less flow. Even then, if a salmon can do it, why not a Nessie?

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    2. Grey seals, which can get pretty big (8, 9, perhaps even 10 feet long) get into the Loch from time to time, seemingly undetected. If they can do it then why not a young Nessie of roughly the same size (or smaller)?

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    3. Yes, I pretty much take the view a Nessie can match a seal for river movement.

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  6. I find this commentary interesting. I call to everyone's attention reportage of an analogue situation. Back in 2015 Rex and Heather Gilroy published a book entitled "River of Monsters: The Hawkesbury River Monster in Myth and Reality." In there, there are numerous reports of seeing plesiosaurids going upriver during heavy rains and the annual flooding season. To even transport over wiers, etc. which get overwhelmed when the rains become heavy enough. Bridges that usually are quite way out of the water are then much closer to the rising water level, and there is at least one sighting (to my recollection) of the creature ducking under the support structure to keep on swimming upstream.

    Just an FYI.

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  7. Interesting report from Kurt Burchfiel......
    An incident that may support the possibility of an animal trying to pass through the canal locks. In 1900 (the exact date is uncertain) an odd animal was reportedly found at the bottom of Corpach Lock on the Caledonian Canal. It was assumed to have come from the loch, although it could just as easily have been trying to get into the loch. To my knowledge, this incident was first reported in print by F.W. Holiday in The Great Orm of Loch Ness . It is also mentioned by Peter Costello in In Search of Lake Monsters. The two versions of the incident differ in that Holiday states that the animal was killed by the workmen who found it, while Costello contends that it was discovered dead by workmen who were engaged in clearing out the lock. Both reports state that the animal resembled a large eel and both describe it as having a “mane.” This incident is not mentioned in Ulrich Magin’s comprehensive listing of recorded sightings, which means that it was not picked-up by the contemporary local papers. According to Fortean Times publisher Mike Dash, the story my have been originally reported to Dom Cyril Dieckhoff, a highland Catholic priest in the 1930s who had a great interest in lake monsters, by one of his correspondents.

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  8. I remember watching a programme when men in a boat tried to cross the weir into loch ness, they couldnt manage it so therefore claimed a large creature couldnt manage ut either. What a load of rubbish i thought.

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    1. GEZZA Consider another hypothesis from Burchfiel.......

      The River Ness, under the right conditions, provides an easier channel of access to the loch. This would require the animal swimming up-river from the Beuly Firth some seven miles and passing over two weirs, one at Holm Mills and the other at Dochfour. While these weirs and the shallowness of the river, only knee-deep in parts, would seem at first glance to make the Ness an impossible route, bear in mind that each weir possesses a fish gap to allow for the movement of the salmon. At Dochfour the weir is sixty feet wide at the bottom and thirty feet wide at the top. At Holm Mills it is a bit smaller, twenty-four feet wide at the top and twelve feet wide at the bottom. Under normal river conditions the velocity of the water moving through these gaps is considered too vigorous to be overcome by any swimming creature.(1) But when the river is swollen by heavy rains (common in January and February) the weirs are practically submerged and the current runs through the gaps at a much reduced speed(2). A small animal that was a powerful swimmer, that drew no more than five feet of water, that made its way into the river during a spate, and that was able to negotiate its way either around or over the shallower portions could, particularly at night, make the passage unobserved and without a great deal of difficulty.

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    2. I'm not familiar with the migration of trout and salmon. Could they be moving up river, and therefore possibly being chased by a predator, at times when the river is swollen?

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  9. I will be up there in 2 weeks, I will keep my eyes peeled.

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  10. Fish move. creatures follow!

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  11. Photo of something on land in Scotland - fake, tree-stump, itinerant monster?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhV19NZHggQ

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