Sunday, October 06, 2013

Wandering by Loch Ness

No, I haven't wandered by the lake in person,  I've always wanted to: I still do.  And I want the Loch to have a monster in it, even though I no longer think it does.
In the 1970s, Nessie was looking really good.  Photos and sonar readings were drawing serious interest from "mainstream" marine biologists and zoologists.  New Scientist and Limnology and Oceanography carried articles.  (There is, believe it or not, a paper by Carl Sagan on the sighting probabilities in Loch Ness, albeit a bit tongue in cheek.)  It seemed like the 1960 film by aeronautical engineer Tim Dinsdale might have been a real record of a real animal.
In 2013, as when I wrote about this in my book Shadows of Existence in 2006, I'm struck by the lack of new evidence.  Not sightings: there are still sightings, some hoaxed, some sincere.  But when this photo hoax (I admit, I didn't know what it was when I first saw it) is the biggest news in years, what's key is that are no new kinds of evidence.  People have spent over 80 years watching the loch and the same types of evidence: distant photos and eyewitness reports - keep piling up.  But is there anything  else?
Alas, no.  No good video, no recent sonar traces, no physical remains.  Some cryptozoologists think the creature (ok, everyone agrees there is not "a" monster, there has to be a breeding colony) occasionally emerges on land.  But it never leaves a trace.  Ness is the most-studied lake, I would wager, in all the British Isles.  And yet not only do we have no proof of a monster, but we have no proof there are enough fish in the lake to feed a colony of monsters: indeed, Dr. Roy Mackal's earlier work arguing there was enough has been pretty broadly dismissed as unwarranted extrapolations based on minimal evidence, and any predator is unlikely to be an unknown species: sightings of live animals, Adrian Shine and others argue, concern sturgeon or the occasional wandering seal (the seals are well documented: the sturgeon are speculative). 
I hate saying goodbye to Nessie.  She got me interested in cryptozoology in the first place.  I still think cryptozoology has something to contribute - even if there are no Nessies (or sasquatches, for that matter) lurking in just out of our sight. 

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