Sasquatch Coffee


Otter Nonsense

Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 5th, 2007

otters

Otters, of course, are responsible for a few misidentifications of Lake Monsters in bodies of water worldwide.

In my The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep (co-authored by Patrick Huyghe), the fact that people do make mistakes when viewing mundane mammals on lakes and lochs is acknowledged. Otters, nevertheless, have never been seen as the root of all Lake Monsters accounts, as seemed to be expressed on CNN’s “Paula Zahn Now” last week by the guest skeptic.

Otters are hardly in vogue any longer. Even Bernard Heuvelmans’ theory of the “super-otters,” as a type of Sea Serpent, has fallen from favor.

One of the “otter nonsense” points of the CNN interview was for Joe Nickell to, more or less, say that all Lake Monster reports could be explained as being otters.

Indeed, Nickell does use this simplistic broad brush to explain several Lake Monster reports.

In Nickell’s and Benjamin Radford’s Lake Monster Mysteries: Investigating the World’s Most Elusive Creatures, “otter” is the underlying explanation that is often used.

Various remarks from that book confirm Nickell’s theme, in which he and Ben Radford use others’ conclusions to support this all-encompassing “otter” theory:

Loch Ness, Scotland

[Quoting Ronald Binns]…With its long neck and plesiosaurlike profile, the otter is quite likely to be perceived as a monster, especially when an adult with two or more young are swimming in a line, creating the semblance of a multihumped creature, p. 13.

[Regarding the August 1933 sighting Spicer sighting, referencing a local newspaper]…the creature was almost certainly a large otter, possibly carrying one of its young, p. 13.

[Dick Raynor's film of 1967, pointing again to Binns]…that, in my opinion, shows an otter or otters, p. 19.

Lake Crescent, Newfoundland

[Obviously, Radford writing]…Otters are very common in and around the lake, and as Joe Nickell has pointed out in earlier chapters, otters can be (and have been mistaken) for lake monsters, p. 96.

Lake Okanagan, British Columbia

[Speaking of Ogopogo, it is noted]…Lake Okanagan is in the home range of…otters, p. 113. Ogopogo and the supposedly responsible otters surface again on pages 117-120 and 168.

On pages 37-38, Nickell mentions otters as the explanation for cryptids in Lake Champlain, Vermont/New York/Quebec; a lake in Clinton County, New York; Loch Arkaig and Loch Ness, Scotland; Lake Utopia, New Brunswick; and Silver Lake, New York (the latter also on pp. 86-87).

On page 73, the Radford-Nickell book links otters to sightings of Memphre in Lake Memphremagog, Quebec and Vermont.

On pages 141-142, Nickell theorizes that at least one sighting of “Beaverton Bessie” or “Kempenfelt Kelly,” seen near Beaverton, Ontario, “could reasonably be explained by otters swimming in a line, diving, and resurfacing,” (page 141).

Reasonably? This is otterly overwhelming. Otterly ridiculous.

If so many otters around the world are “swimming in a line” to fool eyewitnesses into thinking they are the loops of Sea Serpents or Lake Monsters, where are all of the photographs of such visual demonstrations in Nickell’s book? The volume has photos throughout, but not one of these supposedly abundant otters swimming in a line. Oh yes, there is one illustration of “Northern river otters, swimming in a line” in the book. It is a line drawing by Joe Nickell, on page 118.

I was able to find a photograph (see at top) of multiple otters swimming in a lake. Their heads appear rather large and blunt, not “plesiosaurlike” (to use a Nickell descriptor) or even “long-necked.” Also, they happen to be swimming…side by side.

I invite submissions of photographs of otters “swimming in a line,” which look like the humps of a Lake Monster.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


126 Responses to “Otter Nonsense”

  1. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Lake Crescent, Newfoundland

    [Obviously, Radford writing]…”Otters are very common in and around the lake, and as Joe Nickell has pointed out in earlier chapters, otters can be (and have been mistaken) for lake monsters, p. 96.”

    Loren is a bit misleading here; while the above quote is accurate, it leaves the reader with the impression that I suggested that otters are the most likely explanation for Cressie. In fact, the sentence just before the above quote reads, “there is little doubt that the lake contains many eels, so it isn’t much of a stretch to think that Cressie, the “eel-like” lake monster, actually is an eel.” So, in context, you can see that the emphasis on otters as an explanation is Loren’s, not mine.

    It’s also important to note that in lake monster investigations, you have to include all possible explanations. One lake monster image may be a piece of driftwood (e.g. Mansi’s image of Champ), while another may be an otter, or an eel, or a beaver…

    In all the cases that Loren cited, otters were one of many possible explanations. It is true that my co-investigator Joe Nickell favors the otter theory in many cases, but I don’t think he automatically assumes that any given sighting is necessarily otters.

  2. Benjamin Radford responds:

    And as for images of otters that could be mistaken for lake monsters, that’s not hard to do:

    1) Go to http://www.Google.com
    2) Search for “otters swimming”
    3) You will find a dozen or so images that could be mistaken for a lake monster if taken out of context

  3. Bob Michaels responds:

    Lake Monsters in the Tropics could be rather large pythons, perhaps the one in Lake Tele Africa or the anaconda in S.A lakes. In West Africa and India types of water monitor. Surely some are mammals, otters and beavers, but I would not rule out that some day, we might wake up and find that an extinct marine reptile still lives in some form in some oceans.

  4. Loren Coleman responds:

    Yes, of course, I know all about the many explanations about lake monsters, but I was addressing Nickell’s global argument that he shared on CNN. This is a detailed listing of what lakes (and their cryptids), exactly, Nickell has linked to his otter theory.

    Ben, I didn’t ask for “otters swimming.” You are missing the boat on that one, I’m afraid, and I think you know that. Are you trying to win this point with extra “noise”?

    Photos of swimming otters are easy to find. I specifically asked for “otters swimming in a line,” which is the basis of the argument being made by Nickell.

    Don’t throw the whole circus my way when I’ve merely requested a special clown doing a specific act.

  5. mystery_man responds:

    Are you still waiting for those photos of otters swimming in a line, Loren? :) Obviously if it happens so often, there must be plenty of them to be found to submit as examples, so I’m curious to see if any will be forthcoming.

    I think that there are many mundane possibilities for lake monsters that need to be looked into, but personally do not put too much stock solely into the otter theory, indeed I do not think that all sightings can be lumped into any one explanation and I think that there could certainly be different explanations depending on the Lake, which could account for varying uniform reports within the same lake. One thing that may be good to look at is all of the wildlife (not only otters), typical water or wave conditions, any odd underwater currents, boating patterns, etc.

    Sure, I agree otters may account for some sightings or photos, that is perfectly feasible. But it might not be the most scientific approach to rely too much on that theory for dismissing all sightings, especially without photographic evidence of this apparently common behavior of otters swimming in a line. I have seen footage of other animals swimming that seem very much like they could be mistaken by the untrained observer for a lake monster. But I haven’t seen this sort of thing with otters or even convincingly with schools of fish. I am happy to see that Mr. Radford acknowledges that it could be any number of things other than otters.

  6. Rick Noll responds:

    I have seen river otters swim in a line behind one another but only from a few yards away. I don’t think many people would be able to see these animals do this kind of thing from any great distance. I don’t think there are many photographs or videos of them doing this because it is rare, usually at a distance or happens so quick that one doesn’t have time to get the camera and shoot.

    Wait a minute that sounds just like the reasons there aren’t many pictures of cryptids.

  7. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Sorry, Loren, my mistake, I wasn’t trying to throw in “noise” or anything. I guess I’m not sure what your point is.

    Do you doubt that otters swim in a line?

    or

    Do you doubt that otters swimming that way can be mistaken for monsters? I’m not sure where you’re going with this.

    Even if there are only a handful of images of otters swimming in a line, what does that prove, show, or suggest?

  8. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Don’t throw the whole circus my way when I’ve merely requested a special clown doing a specific act.

    I love that line! Seriously!

  9. mystery_man responds:

    Ben- I don’t speak for Loren here, but I think the point is if so many sightings could be attributed to otters swimming in a line, then this would point to this being a reasonably common behavior in otters and if that is the case, there should be lots of footage available of this occuring. Surely such a supposedly common behavior would be fairly well documented? If there is only just a handful of footage of this (if any), that would suggest to me that the tendency of swimming in a line isn’t so common as to be a solid culprit for Lake Monster sightings. Think of it as along the lines of when you were demanding any examples of witness ridicule, he wants examples to back up what the skeptics are claiming. I think Loren’s point is that if otters swimming in a line is such a solid hypothesis for misidentification in so many cases, where is the evidence that this is a common behavior for otters to have in the first place?

  10. Benjamin Radford responds:

    MM sez:

    “Surely such a supposedly common behavior would be fairly well documented?”

    There may be some faulty logic here, there are many perfectly common, ordinary animal behaviors that are not commonly photographed.

    I have never seen a photograph of (nor was I able to find in a Google search a photograph of) a giraffe giving birth. I’m sure that such a photo exists somewhere in some zoologist’s archive, but I’ve never seen one.

    But just because I’ve never seen an image of a giraffe giving birth does not mean that I doubt it happens. So I don’t know that a lack of images of otters swimming in a line really means anything.

  11. mystery_man responds:

    Ben- Well, a lot of people on this post would use that argument on you with Bigfoot. I don’t follow your logic here either. I don’t think giraffes giving birth is a good example because we have giraffes, they are documented and it can be ascertained that storks do not deliver their babies. The consensus would be that giraffes must give birth and that adult giraffes come from baby giraffes. What there doesn’t seem to be is any of otters swimming in a line which your colleague seems to put a lot of faith in. Why is this? Has he seen otters do this often? What is your reason for thinking that otters do this on a regular basis? Surely there must be a reason for this to be thought of as a common behavior that just hasn’t been filmed. Why do you feel that this is such a common otter behavior?

    I don’t have any personal problem with the otter theory except if new behaviors for otters are being thought up as a convenient way to explain lake monster sightings.

  12. mystery_man responds:

    After googling for really only about 20 seconds, I found footage of a giraffe giving birth.

  13. mystery_man responds:

    Ben- Your research for your argument on giraffes giving birth is a bit dodgy. It took me 20 seconds to find such footage on Google. Obviously pretty well documented too as their were many to be found. Wait until the link shows up later and check it out. So I am trying to figure your point out. Animal behaviors are documented through footage and observation. Where is proof of otters swimming in a line and even if they do, I’d like to know if this is a common enough occurrence to rely extensively on as an explanation.

  14. Benjamin Radford responds:

    “Has he seen otters do this often? What is your reason for thinking that otters do this on a regular basis?”

    No one here is (apparently) a wildlife biologist, including me. However, in Lake Monster Mysteries, Joe quotes a wildlife biologist who says that swimming in a line is a common otter behavior. Those who doubt that otters exhibit this behavior can also read Terrie M. Williams’s (of the Sea World Institute) 1989 article “Swimming by sea otters” in the “Journal of Comparative Physiology A” (available online).

    I imagine there are plenty of experts and resources that explain this. If you or Loren or anyone else believes they are wrong, and that swimming in a line is not a common otter behavior, I’m sure Joe would be happy to look at it.

    Or, maybe all the experts are wrong, and otters rarely if ever swim in a line…

  15. Loren Coleman responds:

    Ben, I am a little worried about your research skills if you can’t find any images of giraffe birthing on the internet.

    I think you’ve shown your hand here, demonstrating that skeptics may not be able to keep up-to-date on technological research techniques (using google instead of google images, for example) and instead employing old standards like “just because I’ve never seen a giraffe doesn’t mean giraffe’s don’t exist.”

    Come on, Ben, try to get out a little more. :-)

    By the way, thank you Ben for confirming that just because someone can’t immediately produce an image of a phenomena that probably exists (e.g. otters swimming in line) doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I think we all have been trying to tell you this with regard to cryptids for a long time.

  16. mystery_man responds:

    No one here is an otter biologist at any rate. I do work in the field of biology, but otters are not my specialty I’ll admit. Wildlife biologists can be quite specialized and are by no means experts on all types of animals. All I want are facts on the matter, not assumptions or ideas of what otters might do, so the recommended reading is appreciated. By the way, it is quite easy to find footage of giraffes giving birth on google. :)

  17. Diapause responds:

    I’ve witnessed this behavior, at a lake in South Carolina from a distance of at least 50 meters and for much longer than a few seconds. The otters I observed looked exactly like a single, long, undulating animal moving very rapidly through the water. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of watching otters play, must know that the claim that these animals wouldn’t often travel in tandem is completely preposterous. The move in such a haphazard manner that I’d assume any configuration of otters to be fairly likely.

    To suggest the supposed rarity of these events makes some monstrous unknown creature in landlocked lakes more parsimonious is absurd. These occurrences are great examples of how a fleeting glimpse coupled with the slightest seed of suggestion (even if not at a conscious level) can result in profoundly foolish conclusions.

  18. DARHOP responds:

    What about Beaver? Do they swim in a line? Are their Beaver in Scotland?

  19. mystery_man responds:

    Ben- The link I posted earlier to a video of a giraffe birth has now opened for your perusal. 10 to 20 seconds of research.

  20. mystery_man responds:

    Now where is all the footage of otters swimming in a line? :) I can find footage of pretty much anything else swimming except that. Odd.

  21. Benjamin Radford responds:

    There you have it: Loren suggested that otters swimming in a line is rarity, whereas we already have three posters here (myself, Rick, and Diapause), who have seen it first-hand. I have also provided two resources from experts who note this behavior.

    Therefore the otter explanation is one of several perfectly valid explanations for lake monster sightings. Just as I said.

  22. Richard888 responds:

    Are there even otters in Scotland? This Wiki article, although possibly not the most reliable field guide to Scotland’s mammalian fauna, makes no mention of otters. If Scotland has no otters then this wouldn’t be the first time that a conventional explanation approaches the cryptozoological one in unlikelihood. I prefer a science dominated by crackpots than one arrested by the “it can’t be” concept.

  23. mystery_man responds:

    To be fair though, I suppose if we can accept the idea of the existence of cryptids without solid video footage, then we should be prepared to accept that otters will swim in a line from time to time without footage as well. I can see the skeptic take that this is perhaps more plausible than an actual lake monster considering that otters do exist and I suppose it is highly likely they might swim in a line, but considering otters are known animals, I would think that there would be some sort of footage of this behavior. Probably there is, and I’d be glad to see it. This discussion is amusing to me in that the skeptic side often demands footage or images from cryptid proponents, yet feel they do not have to do so to back up their own arguments. I am not even a proponent of lake monsters, I just think there happen to be plausible explanations other than otters swimming in a line.

  24. Loren Coleman responds:

    Ben says: “Loren suggested that otters swimming in a line is a rarity.”

    Show me the photos of “otters swimming in a line” was my request.

    First of all, I don’t think you can quote that I said anything like that. I merely asked for photos of such a behavior, as I was surprised this was a theory so core to Joe Nickell’s explanation for lake monsters that he would proclaim it as thus on CNN, yet there were no photos of it in his (and your book).

    Show me the photos.

    Secondly, I find it amusing that Ben is using three reported sightings of otters doing this in support of the reality of this behavior existing. Does that mean that Ben has turned a corner on using eyewitness accounts to support lake cryptids’ reality?

    Show me the images of otters swimming in a line that look like a lake monster.

    Don’t change my request into a statement I did not make.

  25. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Loren sez: “Show me the photos.”

    To what end? For what purpose? What is your point?

    Do you really doubt that otters exhibit this behavior? If not, then just say so.

    Do you think it does happen, but is so rare that there are only a few photos of it? Then just say so.

    Are you suggesting that there is a direct correlation between how common something is and how many photos exist of it? If so, what is the logical basis for this assumption?

    Come on, Loren be clear about your point!

  26. PhotoExpert responds:

    This is a very interesting discussion. I have seen and photographed otters in the wild and in captivity. I have seen giant river otters of the Amazon Jungle first hand. For those unfamiliar with them, these giant otters are about 6 feet long and with tail, sometimes longer. So I have some limited experience with them.

    There seems to be several points of discussion here and although related to each other, are separate entities.

    The first point of discussion is: Do otters swim in a line and if so is it common? Yes, otters do swim in a line. It does not happen with great frequency but it does happen. However, when I have witnessed them first hand swimming in a line, it usually is only two of them. And in these not so common occurrences, they were unmistakably otters from my frame of reference. To someone else, they may be monsters or beavers. Many photos you will see of otters have their heads sticking out of the water. This is common behavior and why we see so many photos like these and less with otters swimming in a line.

    That brings us to the second point of discussion and that is: Could otters swimming in a line, even if it is a rare occurrence, be mistaken for something else? When swimming at slow speeds, their heads are usually popping up and visible. Sometimes the otter in trail will have it’s head down and the otter in the lead position will have it’s head up. This might explain some sightings of lake monsters. But that depends on the observer’s experience with otters. I might look at that activity and say, otters! Someone less experienced may say, what is that? Nessie?

    I looked through a couple of photographs I had taken and could not find one of them swimming in a line that could explain the lake monster theory. So I looked through the internet to see if I could find a photograph that might explain some of the lake monster sightings. I found this, which also happens to show the giant Amazonian otters I saw while in the Amazon Jungle. This photo was not taken by me. Here is the link.

    It is a photo of the lead otter with head out of the water and the trailing otter with head in the water. This gives the appearance of a single creature.

    If I saw this, even at a distance. I would say, otters! If someone with less familiarity with otters saw this, they might say, monster! So the third discussion taking place here is: What is the frame of reference of the observer?

    A marine biologist would have an excellent frame of reference. But a marine biologist with an astigmatism, would not be a good witness. I would find someone’s eyewitness account who was less credentialed but had good eyesight. So the witness’s frame of reference is important.

    Then we go into another area of discussion, and that is, what is the evidence we are currently evaluating. In this case, it is video. Is it good quality video? Well, it’s better than a lot of videos that are submitted for evaluation. And even though it does not have the camera shake of some submissions, it is a bit shaky since it is obviously hand held video and it is taken a fairly great distance.

    I agree with the one poster who said, I did not see any fins, etc. So what we are looking at is something. Something in the water that is moving at a pretty good clip and not sulking along.

    Do otters do that? Yes, they do move at fast pace sometimes. Most of the time they are playing and basking and head popping to look around. They are curious creatures.

    So we get into the entire discussion, bringing up all these separate issues. I think both sides have made some very valid points. Both sides have made some credible arguments in trying to prove their points.

    But the fact remains, if you look at the separate issues or you look at them as a whole, the video itself proves nothing more than something is moving in the water. What it is can not be defined. And since it is ambiguous at best, it could be anything.

    I say, seal! LOL And my argument would be just as valid as the otter argument based on the facts at hand and the limitations of the evidence. I could say, otter! I could say, Nessie! And based on the evidence or lack there of, under the parameters of the discussion and limitations of the evidence, be correct using those answers.

    The reason I like the video is that it gives us all here at Cryptomundo something interesting to look at and discuss and interact. We can use our imaginations and exercise our creativity and thought processes. And there is no right or wrong schools of thought on that. It is open for discussion. And that is what makes it both interesting and fun!

    Have a great day everyone!

  27. Bob K. responds:

    I think I’ll introduce a new “line” of thought here. There have been a number of reports of various lake monsters being sighted ON LAND. If I were a serious researcher, I think that I would abandon-at least for a time-all efforts to capture video of these creatures while they are swimming, when much of their bulk is hidden under water and can’t be seen in any detail, and focus on trying to capture video of these cryptids while they are out of the water, when there would be no doubt about their identification. Blurry shots of mostly submerged animals isn’t getting us very far as to identifying what is actually in the Loch, or the lake.

  28. DWA responds:

    Look, I’m just grateful for confirmation that Bigfoot is a pretty common animal that just isn’t filmed very often.

    “There you have it: Loren suggested that otters swimming in a line is rarity, whereas we already have three posters here (myself, Rick, and Diapause), who have seen it first-hand.”

    Compared to how many thousands of eyewitness accounts of the sasquatch…? So thanks, too, for the confirmation that eyewitnesses constitute pretty durn strong evidence. Finally we got there.

    I’ve seen one otter in my life, coming right at me in the water from a few feet away, in Corkscrew Swamp, FL. He was a big ‘un. “Lake monster” is the last thing anyone could have thought.

    I’d prefer a simple effort being made to confirm what people are seeing, rather than a whole bunch of armchair theories about why they couldn’t possibly be seeing that.

    You know, armchair perceptions have no validity. They are, literally, people seeing things.

  29. DWA responds:

    “By the way, thank you Ben for confirming that just because someone can’t immediately produce an image of a phenomena that probably exists (e.g. otters swimming in line) doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I think we all have been trying to tell you this with regard to cryptids for a long time.”

    Actually, Loren, I could Google a film, pretty clear one, of a sasquatch walking along a river bar in a few seconds here. It’s clear enough for you to see that it has a humanlike nose and is female. Stand by one…

  30. DWA responds:

    BTW, I doubt Ben saw otters swimming in a line.

    I mean, he says he did, but he’s only one eyewitness. I’d kinda doubt it. Three? That’s evidence? A hundred wouldn’t be evidence to me. A thousand wouldn’t, a hundred thousand wouldn’t, not to me and especially not to Ben Radumahnevermind…

    One should be careful of one’s petards on this site. Hoisting comes unexpectedly. ;-)

  31. Notsobigfoot responds:

    Ben,

    You keep saying “whats your point? make your point clearer” etc. Why is it that nobody else is having a hard time understanding what Loren is saying? I’m not trying to be rude, I’m just saying that all Loren asked for is pictures of otters swimming in a line, not arguments, not theories or probabilities, just one picture that you have yet to produce despite claims that there are a dozen or so on google. I personally did not see a single one when I looked, just lots of swim clubs athough to be fair I only spent about 5 mins looking.

    Again, not trying to be rude, just hoping we can all get past this childish argument and back to the good stuff :)

  32. fuzzy responds:

    “Does that mean that Ben has turned a corner on using eyewitness accounts to support lake cryptids’ reality?”

    Nope – it’s just one of his debunking techniques, as usual.

  33. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Good post, PhotoExpert!

    I, also, have seen giant river otters in the Amazon. Big bastards, but kinda cute. And if you didn’t know what they were, you could easily mistake them for a lake monster!

  34. AtomicMrEMonster responds:

    Here’s what I found in 20 seconds:

    http://tinyurl.com/2ps8ro – If seen from a distance, I can easily imagine someone unfamiliar with otters thinking “lake monster.”

    http://tinyurl.com/2vaqlo – Again, this could look “monsterish” if seen from a distance. Especially if one had gone to a body of water thinking about and looking for a “lake monster,” which could make practically anything in the water appear to be an unknown creature.

    http://tinyurl.com/3xhosa – Otters have been known to travel in (rough) lines on land, too!

    http://tinyurl.com/2myedu – Not a line of otters, but I think this looks rather “lake monsterish.” Just think of it as a special bonus picture.

    And for what it’s worth, I suspect that these were taken by photographers assigned to take good, clear pictures of otters. After all, I doubt they thought that people visiting their respective websites would be satisfied with blurry pictures.

  35. elsanto responds:

    PhotoExpert… fantastic post, but let’s not play any games… I had a look at that link… no question:

    it’s a bunyip!

    I have seen otters swimming on more than one occasion, and while it’s possible a group of otters could be mistaken for a multi-humped lake monster, a while it’s possible that a group of otters swimming in a line could be mistaken for the same, they do not swim in the way that the subject in the Holmes footage appears to move… not that I’m suggesting that the Holmes footage is genuine, my buttocks are planted firmly on the fence on that one.

    Just my two cents.

  36. BugMO responds:

    I have a question for everyone, especially those who believe that a sighting of a lake monster can be explained as someone simply misidentifying a lake monster for an overly large eel. My question is if all the sightings of Lake Monster throughout history and from all over the world are misidentified giant eels. Where are all of these giant eels? Does anyone check to see if there are even eels in the waters where lake monsters are supposed it reside in? What types of FRESH WATER eels can grow to a size that could be considered OR misidentified as a lake monster? I know that salt water eels can grow to be giants, but I’m asking about fresh water eels. Because if lake monsters can be explained as giant eels, then giant eels and regular size eels in general should be living in the lakes where lake monsters are supposed to live in.

  37. joppa responds:

    Hey DARHOP. I’m with you. I’ve seen beavers swim in a line and was freaked out until I got close. Alas, no beavers in Scotland, so they only get blamed for being cryptids here in North America.

  38. DWA responds:

    BugMO: let me help you with that one.

    The intent of the eel hypothesis is simply to introduce another favorite fish of scoftics: the red herring.

    The intent is to debunk while remaining in one’s armchair. Why, everyone knows what an eel is! I’ll simply say it’s an eel, and the hoi polloi will buy it! The intent has nothing to do with serious thought as to what this phenomenon might be; it has to do with dismissing it without having to go to the hard work of engaging in serious thought.

    IMHO.

  39. PhotoExpert responds:

    Benjamin–Yes, unless you have seen an Amazonian River Otter first hand, you would not believe the size of these things. Even then, they are a bit shocking. Thank you! It was nice to have my post acknowledged in a positive way. Sometimes it is easy for your post to be lost in a sea of opinions.

    I try to remain objective both when posting and reading. Many times, there is common ground on different schools of thought no matter how polar opposite the objective and subjective opinions may be. The reality is that posters are sometimes saying the same thing, but from different perspectives, but they don’t always realize they are using similar arguments to prove different points.

    I read everday here at Cryptomundo, but post infrequently, unless I see a need for mediation or that some common sense needs to be mixed into a recipe that is headed for disaster or is starting to flame into an argument based on one’s beliefs. Let’s face it, emotions run strong when anyone has passion and embraces his or her beliefs. So even though one tries to remain objective, emotions run high.

    I look for commonalities or common ground. The common ground here is an interest in cryptozoology. And whether one is interested as a skeptic or they are interested as a believer, it makes no difference. They are interested in the same subject.

    In this thread, we are figuring out what it is while we are figuring out what it is not. And therein lies the possibility of solving the mystery, unless a body turns up or an irrefutable video or photograph is produced.

    However, we can use common ground between differing thoughts for points of clarification. This clarity should eventually lead to an objective agreement, or at least to an objective agreement on what it is or what it is not.

    That was the point of my post. And I did supply a link to a photo, although I pointed out, the photo in question can be just as strongly debated by both sides, if one takes into account the separate areas of discussion I mentioned in my first post.

    Kudos to you! Kudos to Loren! You have both made this a very interesting discussion and may I add, a very active thread! There was a lot of participation in this and isn’t that why the Cryptomundo site is here–so people can actually voice their opinions and become involved in their interest. The great thing I noticed is that we had many members from BF enthusiasts to those that were skeptical, participating in this thread. If you get a BF thread, usually just the proBF people participate in it. If you get a big cat thread, usually just the feline fanatics participate in it. But in this thread, we had many members participating in it from the frame of reference that they were all cryptozoology lovers!

    Ain’t life great!

  40. PhotoExpert responds:

    elsanto–Thank you too for noticing! I appreciate the comments and sentiments. I missed your post because I was posting at the same time you were.

    And LOL! Thanks for the laugh!

  41. BugMO responds:

    DWA that’s exactly my point. What’s the point in getting one’s hands dirty? When it’s easier to just explain something away with an even less believable explanation.

  42. Benjamin Radford responds:

    BugMo sez: “My question is if all the sightings of Lake Monster throughout history and from all over the world are misidentified giant eels.”

    No one has ever claimed that.

  43. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Somewhere I actually have a photo of giant river otters I saw in Brazil. Maybe I’ll post it if I can find it…

  44. BugMO responds:

    Boy, it must be nice to be able to explain some of the world’s most bizarre phenomenon with the simplest answers. Being quoted in newspapers and magazines, going on TV shows to explain to the viewing audience how simple it is to debunk some of the most puzzling mysteries the world has ever seen, with the simplest answers. Then, ask all of the believers of said strange phenomenon to give the world more credible proof of the phenomenon they believe is true. Then, when more credible proof is given you simple have to either give another simple answer or you could just ignore the so called proof. Either way you won’t have to do much work.

  45. BugMO responds:

    No one has ever claimed that. Really?

    In fact, the sentence just before the above quote reads, “there is little doubt that the lake contains many eels, so it isn’t much of a stretch to think that Cressie, the “eel-like” lake monster, actually is an eel.”

  46. Benjamin Radford responds:

    BugMo sez: “Boy, it must be nice to be able to explain some of the world’s most bizarre phenomenon with the simplest answers… how simple it is to debunk some of the most puzzling mysteries the world has ever seen, with the simplest answers.”

    What a remarkably stupid and uninformed posting! It always amazes me that people who know little or nothing about the topic will write whatever comes into their heads, blissfully unaware of the facts.

    I don’t know of any “simplest answers.” I spent months of my life meticulously researching and investigating Champ and the Mansi photo alone. I spent years working on my lake monster book.

    The answers I come to are hardly “simple.” Often they are very complex

    “Either way you won’t have to do much work.”

    I’ve done more work on trying to understand these mysteries than almost anyone else alive. How many eyewitnesses have you spoken to? How many hours have you logged at lakes in North America and in Scotland? How many weeks and months have you spent researching reports?

  47. BugMO responds:

    Benjamin: I’m sorry if you’re feeling that I’m directing my posts at you. Which I’m not. I merely directing my posts to the whole Cryptomundo community. I have nothing but the highest respect for anyone who’s willing to spend hours researching a subject and then is willing to present their claims for the whole world to see.

    I haven’t spoken to any eyewitnesses or made any special trips to any location of strange phenomenon in the intent of studying the phenomenon. But, I’m a middle class college student trying to make my way through college and going on a trip across America or to Scotland doesn’t quite fit into budget. But, that’s no excuse. I have spent months researching strange phenomenon.

  48. kamoeba responds:

    I liked PhotoExpert’s picture of two otters that kinda sorta looked like a serpent in the water. But remember that that photo represents one tiny fraction of a second in time. Don’t you think that at some time the lead otter’s head went below water and the submerged otter’s head raised above the water? I think it would take some incredible synchronizing for two otters to hold up the illusion of an aquatic “monster” for more than a second or two.

  49. jerrywayne responds:

    I wonder why, at crypto-zoo school, the dunce cap is given to the folks that posit the mundane and plausable, such as otters accounting for many lake monster reports. And gold star stickers are awarded to those with the most sensational, least explicable notions: lake phenomena are prehistoric whales, plesiosaurs, Great Orms, gigantic eels, super otters, monster slugs, etc

  50. Ceroill responds:

    Interesting discussion all round, guys. I was at Loch Ness briefly back in the summer of ’76. Didn’t see anything though, although I’d wanted to. Not even a stick or an odd wave. Oh well. Not everyone can be a witness to potential strangeness.

  51. mfs responds:

    Mr. Radford and Mr. Nickell are “probably” right in their assumptions that the creature in the Holmes video may be an otter or another known creature that inhabits the Loch. But they really don’t know.

    I can’t form an opinion on what the video is actually showing since it is too indiscernible which seems to be the case these days for any kind of cryptid video footage which is unfortunate. I don’t know what it is. It can be anything.

    Even with a detailed analysis of the video it still may prove difficult to ascertain the identity of the creature. Put this under the “Unknown” category for now. The debate goes on and the speculation continues.

    An “otter” great blog folks!

  52. BugMO responds:

    mfs: I fully agree.

  53. mystery_man responds:

    Ok, so it seems that otters can and do swim in a line from time to time, I will agree to that. As I said before, I have no problem with the idea that otters could be misidentified. I do not get the impression from any of these posts, however, that otters swimming in a line is an incredibly common occurrence.

    Way up above, Mr. Radford said that there is often no photographic evidence of common or mundane animal behavior, but let’s look at that statement from the perspective of otters. I have searched and found many, many pieces of footage of otters swimming, which I think everyone will agree is pretty perfectly normal behavior for an otter to engage in. So there is a lot of footage of otters merely swimming, not even anything so interesting as them swimming in a line. What I find odd is the conspicuous absence of any footage of any swimming in a line, which has been claimed is such a common occurrence. This is strange in that I would think that during all of this filming of otters swimming, some would have been captured of the “perfectly common, ordinary” behavior of otters swimming in a line. The fact that all of the footage is of otters not swimming in a line, that would stand to reason that NOT swimming in a line is more common and perhaps swimming in a line is not the norm.

    I can see how some large otters by themselves could be misidentified, and I’m sure it is sometimes a cause for a lake monster sighting. I am willing to admit that otters will swim in a line occasionally. What I don’t see is otters swimming in a line being a common enough occurrence for it to adequately explain the majority of sightings. To build otters swimming in a line into a cornerstone argument, I would have expected more to back it up than one expert’s opinion and some eyewitness accounts. There is plenty of footage of otters swimming. Where is the footage of the “common occurrence” of them swimming in a line? I really am curious.

  54. PhotoExpert responds:

    kamoeba–Thank you for your kind comments! But I can only take credit for linking to the photograph in my post and not the actual photograph. Credit needs to go where credit is due. I linked to that photograph. That was someone else’s photo. Although I have taken many an otter photo, that was not mine.

    You are correct kamoeba, a photograph is only a split second of time.

    Everyone seems so friendly here. I should start posting more often instead of just reading.

  55. springheeledjack responds:

    I am willing to concede that once in a while someone who has no experience with the water may see a line of otters and if they do not look to closely or for too long, might interpret it as a lake critter, especially in a place like Ness or Champlain.

    BUT, if you live in the area (and I am not sure that otters are a mainstay at NEss or Champlain–in all the investigations of Loch Ness otters is not one of the creatures that gets popularly mentioned as one of the local wildlife, and I am not saying there aren’t any, but I do not believe there are large populations of them creeping around)…and you are used to seeing what is out on the waters on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, you are going to become familiar with what is around you. You are going to see otters swimming and begin to be able to discern that from other phenomena.

    My other problem is the giant eel theory. Eels swim side to side and while they may come to the surface and do whatever it is they do, some time spent in scrutiny is going to give you an idea of what you are looking at. Eels have never properly explained the head and neck accounts…especially the accounts where the head and neck is several feet out of the water for several seconds or minutes.

    My problem with the debunking crowd, is that they latch onto a possibility to explain one situation (and sometimes the stuff the debunkers come up with is even more outlandish than an as yet unidentified water critter), and then extrapolate that to fit all accounts.

    That is poor logical thought on any front.

    I have problems with sticks in the water too, but I think Ben and I have already been over that ground…

  56. asrai responds:

    I also wonder where all the footage of otters swimming in a line is? And for that matter, since it was the Holmes footage of the “loch ness monster” that brought this up, wouldn’t we be talking about European otters? So where is all the footage of European otters (which are SOLITARY animals) swimming in a line? I don’t even know how many videos I watched of otters swimming and not in one were they swimming in a line. Now I’m not saying that they don’t ever do this, but I don’t think it is as common as some are making it out to be.

    As for fresh water eels most are smaller than 2m. So I’m not sure they could be mistaken for a lake monster either. Anyways I loved reading all the comments on this post, made for a very interesting discussion.

  57. DWA responds:

    SHJ: exactly.

    One thing that crypto has a big problem with is its own outlandish – OK, currently unverifiable by science – explanations of phenomena. (Most of which, granted, aren’t taken seriously by real cryptos.) This problem causes cryptos to creep around the dim edges of zoology, constantly saying pardon, pardon, excuse me excuse me, and not calling “skeptics” (still having problems with gross misapplications of that word) on explanations my six-year-old wouldn’t get away with.

    Nobody who keeps offering stuff like that – instead of doing the simple, easy, intelligent thing, and calling for a real look into the matter – is doing research that crypto has any obligation to respect.

    Anybody who doesn’t think it’s waaaaaay past time to find out what, precisely, is in Loch Ness is summarily convicted of mental lassitude and sentenced to life on Bigfoot stakeout. In Schenectady, NY. Sez here.

    And I’m not somebody who even particularly believes there IS something radically unknown in Loch Ness.

    And this to Ronald “With its long neck and plesiosaurlike profile, the otter is quite likely to be perceived as a monster” Binns:

    Anybody who thinks otters and plesiosaurs have any similarities worth talking about would confuse me with a gorilla at a dinner party. (AFTER I shaved.)

  58. Sergio responds:

    Benjamin Radford wrote:

    “What a remarkably stupid and uninformed posting! It always amazes me that people who know little or nothing about the topic will write whatever comes into their heads, blissfully unaware of the facts.”

    Benjamin, this is definitely one of the most the most antagonizing, patronizing posts I’ve seen here at Cryptomundo. One thing is certain; you have a serious complex. As a psychologist, you of all people should appreciate the implications of one who seemingly is in constant need of inflating oneself at the expense of others.

    Where I’m from, if you try that kind of talk at the library, the bar, the bleachers at the ballgame, or at the lyseum, well, you’ll end up with a few missing teeth.

    Which is why, I suspect, that you constantly belittle and berate others in this manner, because you’re safely tucked away behind your keyboard.

    Hubris.

  59. mystery_man responds:

    PhotoExpert- Your excellent posts didn’t go unnoticed by me either. You should post more often, as it seems you could really contribute some good stuff.

    SHJ- That was a point I meant to bring up earlier, and I agree. As an ex-debunker myself, I can personally attest to the urge to latch onto any mundane explanation, no matter how implausible, and fashion it into a major debunking argument. In these cases, I would look at any other remotely possible hypothesis EXCEPT that it may just be something unknown to science. It is hard to show these types of debunking skeptics other alternatives because they will twist logic around, put words in your mouth, and change the parameters of their arguments in order to avoid facing theories other than the ones they favor. They will absolutely not even consider that there may be something new to science there. I know because that’s what I did and it wasn’t an unbiased scientific approach. This is despite the fact that some of the so called mundane explanations may be too rare to have been seen by so many or in some cases may be going so far as to be attributing cryptic behavior to known animals. Some proponents do the same thing and I don’t agree with it.

    I am still a skeptic. I still embrace good, plausible theories that do not involve Lake Monsters. I still think there may be common explanations for sightings, but what I want is something that seems likely and can be shown to be plausibly what people have reported through visual aids of images, footage and what not. If the skeptical argument is that it is wave patterns, I want to know about how those would be perceived and see how that could be misidentified. I want to know the conditions they appear in compared to when sightings were made. The excellent links posted here to images of known animals that could be mistaken for cryptids are good examples of what I personally want to see when weighing skeptical theories. If an idea has merit, then I will absolutely recognize it as such.

    That being said, one thing that I feel is important is to keep open is the possibility that some of the sightings may not be easily explainable, and like trying to push a square peg into a round hole, may not be fit into any pet theory smoothly. To me, that is not where true skepticism lies, but rather with trying to find real answers without the shackles of true belief. I think skepticism can be a good path to real answers if one does not become so biased and impassioned with their own ideas and cause as to discard conflicting notions no matter how possible they might be. I have even seen skeptics squabbling amongst themselves about different hypothesis, so caught up with trying to be clever or right that the real answers may elude them. Again, I think believers are guilty of this too.

    So while I entertain mundane causes for Lake Monster phenomena, I also think there should be the consideration that perhaps maybe it is something unknown causing these witness accounts in some cases. It would be nice to see at least some acknowledgment from time to time that the answer may not be so clear in some cases. I personally want both possibilities to be pursued in a scientific manner, with as little bias as possible. Otters always swim in a line all of the time? Ok. If that is true, so be it, as long as I can see how this is a strong argument. A large undiscovered animal lurks beneath the waves? Ok, again, I want to see how it is possible. If I am wrong, fine, show me I’m wrong. I want to see all angles and love to learn more. Being right is not my purpose for being here, discovering the truth is.

  60. Ceroill responds:

    Well said, Mystery Man.

  61. AtomicMrEMonster responds:

    asrai responds: June 6th, 2007 at 1:43 am
    I also wonder where all the footage of otters swimming in a line is?

    Mr. Coleman only requested photographs of otters swimming in lines that could be mistaken for lake monsters, but since I’m in a good mood, I’ll throw some videos your way:

    Two otters swim in a rough line about a minute into the video.

    Here we have a mother otter and her child swimming in a line. I will grant you that European otters tend to be solitary animals, but please note that according to this, European otter pups are dependent on their mother for a year and that a mother can have up to four pups. With that in mind, it’s not hard to imagine that a mother could swim with four pups following her. That, combined with the loch’s murky waters making bumplike waves, could easily be mistaken for an unknown animal. Look at how the otter in this video has a wake that makes it seem like a bigger animal.

    I’d also imagine that otter mates would be seen together as well.

    I should also note that Scotland’s wildlife population does include otters.

    Maybe it’s just me, but this video seems to start with three otters swimming in a line? And this obviously isn’t footage of otters in the ocean, so they aren’t sea otters (I’m anticipating someone trying to say that some of the stuff I linked to aren’t valid because they show sea otters). This shows that this behavior isn’t limited to sea otters.

    Speaking of sea otters, why is the idea of sea otters making their way into places like Loch Ness considered less likely than the “Sonar scans can’t find Nessie/Morag/etc. because it comes to and from the loch from connections to the sea or over land”? Sea otters are a lot smaller and easier to ignore than the large creatures that Nessie and its ilk are supposed to be. So why is this possibility overlooked? Is it because people don’t like the idea that some sightings could have explanations that aren’t as appealing as crediting them to an unknown animal?

    If a toad being found deep in the loch can be touted as proof that one can find “…most common things in the strangest of places,” that the loch hasn’t been fully explored and so an unknown animal could be there, etc., why not apply it to otters as well?

    This video shows a beaver chasing an otter in a line. If that beaver was a little faster (or the otter was a little slower…or if otter pups were involved), this would be dead-on perfect “lake monster” footage.

    I hope that this footage is to your liking and that this post doesn’t get ignored like my other post containing pictures of otters traveling in lines in the water and on dry land.

    Special bonus stuff:

    And look at this otter sticking its head and neck out of the water. Or look at this picture. It’s not entirely unlike for a few lake monster sightings to be misidentified otters.

    Are all lake monster sightings otters? Of course not, the sheer variety and type of sightings (like seeing something on land) can’t all be credited to otters. However, this also doesn’t mean that no sightings can be credited to otters or other misidentifications. Personally, I honestly don’t care if they do ever find anything in Loch Ness. It’d be great if they found a new species in there, but I’m not “married” to proving or disproving Nessie’s existence. The only reason I posted this stuff was because so many people were implying that such evidence of this behavior in otters doesn’t exist or that otters in a lake was somehow less likely than an unknown animal. In a good scientific investigation, all possible (common) explanations/factors should be examined before declaring it to be something unknown to science.

    And on a final (unrelated) note, how is Mr. Radford’s “patronizing” post different from a typical DWA post or some of Mr. Coleman’s posts in this thread (without an emoticon attached)? Let’s not play favorite here.

  62. DARHOP responds:

    This is better than Friday night fights. I love it.

  63. PhotoExpert responds:

    mystery-man–Thank you for the kind and generous comments! With encouragement like that, I am going to do just that. I will post more often as you suggested.

    By the way, I always enjoyed reading your posts too. You make threads that would get a few reads very interesting and they become popular. Your contributions have not gone unnoticed by readers either.

    I especially like the one a while back where you came out and your name was no longer a mystery. LOL That was really cool and surprising. It was fun too! You revealed the mystery and made for some excitement in that thread because no one expected it. Thanks for all you do here in making Cryptomundo the place it is. Now I have to take you up on your encouragement and find a something to post to!!!

    Enjoy this beautiful day!

  64. Daniel Loxton responds:

    I’m not completely clear about the “swimming in a line” thing myself. I’m assured this happens, but I’ve never attempted to really lock down how common it is. I’ll note in passing, though, that any group of animals moving together at the surface of a body of water are made into “a line” by perspective if they are even a little way out.

    It seems to me that this very specific question (while interesting) misses the general point of the frequent otter appearances in Lake Monster Mysteries: if a large enough number of people look at a monster-haunted body of water long enough under a broad enough range of viewing conditions, false positive monster sightings caused by misinterpretation of common lake phenomena will start to accumulate. Under the right circumstances, ducks, otters, boats, logs, boat wakes, mirages, and so on can (and, we know, do) generate false lake monster reports. Given that fact of life, it’s just a numbers game: enough lake visitors, and you’ll generate an impressive lake monster database. (Note that this holds true regardless of the existence of an actual monster in the lake.)

    Of course, solving specific cases is a tougher proposition. We know there are false positives in the mix — a lot of them, whether we like it or not — but we don’t generally know which sightings were generated by what. Commentators on all sides often argue for educated “best guess” explanations for given cases, but these necessarily involve speculation.

    Misinterpretation is of course much less likely to be a factor in the spectacular rock star cases. In those most spectacular cases, hoaxing is always an uncomfortable possibility — but that’s a topic for another thread…

  65. DWA responds:

    Daniel:

    As somebody who has seen, in his mind’s eye, too many things morph into too many things on big bodies of water, I’ll drink to that. (One of the seminal moments of my life: realizing those were whitecaps out there, not whales. It made my childhood a lot less frustrating when I realized why they didn’t show themselves.)

    My thing about water monsters of any stripe is this: unless we break the surface and go down to where they are, forget it. We’ll never know.

    And now you have to narrow down to the very few where this seems like a real Thing To Do. And I’d argue Nessie is one – however many the false positives; whatever the likelihood of it being something unknown to science.

    (Yeah, we can dredge one up, by accident or design, as well. It just doesn’t seem the most likely way.)

  66. Daniel Loxton responds:

    What a remarkably stupid and uninformed posting! It always amazes me that people who know little or nothing about the topic will write whatever comes into their heads, blissfully unaware of the facts.

    C’mon, Ben, you can do better than that. BugMo’s characterization of skeptics was not at all accurate, but we can’t expect everyone to have an accurate ready-made assessment of what we do. If it’s wrong, just correct it — while taking care not to reinforce anyone’s prejudices.

    (If I might make a personal aside, this chore of correcting mistaken assumptions about my activities was no different when I was a shepherd. I must have heard it asserted dozens of times a year, “Wow, must be peaceful. Get a lot of art done, huh?” No farm kid would ever say that! We actually worked 100 hours a week under isolated, difficult, stressful, exhausting, and dangerous circumstances, so this idyllic assumption was really pretty insulting. Of course spending the summer in the Northern Canadian wilderness working with 1500 sheep is no picnic. But how is a non-expert to know that unless someone explains it?)

  67. DWA responds:

    AtMEM says: “And on a final (unrelated) note, how is Mr. Radford’s “patronizing” post different from a typical DWA post or some of Mr. Coleman’s posts in this thread (without an emoticon attached)? Let’s not play favorite here.”

    Exactly. Let’s not. STOP DEFENDING RADFORD WHEN HE CALLS PEOPLE STUPID, FOR DOING THINGS HE DOES REGULARLY.

    Now that I have your attention: if you think that Ben post that you’re [use appropriate substitute word for "defending"] is anything like a “typical” post of mine, you don’t come here often enough. (And you probably don’t, judging by how often I see that handle.) In fact, I should point out that Ben is just about the only person on this site that prompts what you call a “typical” post from me. So let’s call it “a typical response of the type Ben should expect when he comes on like he does in his, yes, typical post.”

    Great. Now we’re straight. That out of the way: back on topic.

    You say:

    Speaking of sea otters, why is the idea of sea otters making their way into places like Loch Ness considered less likely than the “Sonar scans can’t find Nessie/Morag/etc. because it comes to and from the loch from connections to the sea or over land”? Sea otters are a lot smaller and easier to ignore than the large creatures that Nessie and its ilk are supposed to be. So why is this possibility overlooked? Is it because people don’t like the idea that some sightings could have explanations that aren’t as appealing as crediting them to an unknown animal?

    Nope. That possibility is overlooked because a line of sea otters heading for fresh water to do a lake monster imitation for tourists is about as likely as a giant squid’s doing it. As is the similar claim about Nessie puttin’ on a wee miner’s lamp an’ hiddin’ to the sea. It’s a frequent skeptic tack, in fact, to justify not-too-damn-likely debunking explanations by comparing them with the most-way-out-there proponent schemes. Definitely not according to Hoyle, that. Let’s stick to Occam’s Razor, K?

    You also say:

    ….so many people were implying that such evidence of this behavior in otters doesn’t exist or that otters in a lake was somehow less likely than an unknown animal.

    Um, no they weren’t, in so many words. This may be more evidence that you don’t show up here a lot. What they were doing was taking Ben to task the way he so often does them: by saying that visual evidence counts for nothing, and that if you can’t produce conclusive evidence, then the thing you’re talking about doesn’t exist. And no, he doesn’t say that. Not in so many words. What he does is not-saying it, which, if you get the difference and I know you do, is just as bad, really. What folks were doing was simply yanking Ben’s chain the way he likes to yank theirs.

    And I know you have noted that I haven’t used words like “remarkably stupid and uninformed” or “know little or nothing” yet. Ben’s our resident expert there, and I like to leave the expertise to the experts. :-)

    And BTW, it’s flat wrong that “all possible (common) explanations/factors should be examined before declaring it to be something unknown to science.” First of all, you never declare something unknown to science. A second’s thought will reveal that logically impossible to do. If you don’t know what it is you don’t – can’t – declare anything. You speculate, intelligently thank you, as to what the evidence indicates it might be, then you take steps to CONFIRM ITS EXISTENCE. And I think it’s way past time to do this with Nessie, the yeti and the sasquatch – at least – and not continue to waste good bandwidth claiming that it’s a bear with three otters swimming in a line behind it, which appeared bipedal because of the two giant eels on its shoulders.

    Or whatever.

    It’s not that proponents are dedicated to out-debunking the debunkers. It’s that they’re pretty damn tired of the simple, logical, quite plausible possibility that we have a new animal here getting, well, laughed at by people offering even more laughable reasons it ain’t so.

    Putting it nicely. ;-)

  68. ygor427 responds:

    Here’s an otter related cryptid story for you…

    At my high school the drama teacher had worked for Unsolved Mysteries. She was a director. She was still working for them when they did the Ogopogo episode. For this episode, they actually purchased footage (which they rarely did) of an elleged Pogo encounter. According to her, they were viewing this costly footage when one of the other crew members noticed that when you zoomed in you could clearly see little otter feet. Because they’d already paid for it they aired it. Needless to say, Robert Stack did not mention the feet nor the fact they’d paid a few grand for video of an otter. And this otter wasn’t even having a jug band christmas!!!

  69. asrai responds:

    AtMEM: thank you for posting all the footage of otters. although it does show otters sort of swimming in lines, i still don’t see how any of this footage could be misinterpreted as a lake monster. and also let me remind you that i didn’t say that they didn’t swim in lines, just that it might not be that common. and I’m also not saying that every piece of footage that is possibly a lake monster is in fact a lake monster. because it probably isn’t. and i don’t think i was asking for anything more than what skeptics ask for. anyways thank you again for the otter footage.

  70. DWA responds:

    jerrywayne says:

    “I wonder why, at crypto-zoo school, the dunce cap is given to the folks that posit the mundane and plausable [sic] as otters accounting for many lake monster reports.”

    My response above probably covers this too. But why not be sure. We don’t hand out any dunce caps here; we just get tired of loopy scenarios involving existing critters being used to put dunce caps on cryptos without the postulators getting off their butts to do, or encourage, real research. It’s like my saying that, no, mountains are really just clouds, and hoping you don’t walk or drive over to them to check me out.

    “And gold star stickers are awarded to those with the most sensational, least explicable notions: lake phenomena are prehistoric whales, plesiosaurs, Great Orms, gigantic eels, super otters, monster slugs, etc [sic]”

    Actually, “super otters” sound like a skeptical creation to me, from perusing this thread. ;-)

    Trust me, Nessie itself would be much more explicable than some of the “arguments” I’ve heard kissing it off.

  71. aastra responds:

    A few years ago (~10 years, max) the city newspaper in Victoria, BC printed a rather remarkable photo of otters swimming in a line. The resemblance to the hypothetical undulating sea serpent was very good, and (I recall) this point was emphasized in the photo’s caption.

    The newspaper in question is called the Times-Colonist. I remember the picture as being on the front page, but it might have been on the front page of one of the sections.

    Maybe I’ll head on over to the library’s microfilm collection one of these days and try to dig it up.

  72. Daniel Loxton responds:

    DWA writes,

    You speculate, intelligently thank you, as to what the evidence indicates it might be, then you take steps to CONFIRM ITS EXISTENCE. And I think it’s way past time to do this with Nessie…

    What would you suggest? Of all cryptids, every organized, dedicated effort has been made — for many years, and at tremendous expense — to confirm the existence of Nessie: from the practical (massive, systematic observation campaigns; large scale sonar dragnets), to the fanciful (submarines; simply walking the entire length of the floor of the lake in a diving suit), to the outrageous (spells and incantations)…

    What’s the next step — and what are the odds that this step will finally pay off?

  73. Daniel Loxton responds:

    aastra:

    Try this shot in the dark first, as it’s a front-of-section caption that includes the word “Cadborosaurus.”
    Source: Times Colonist
    Page: B1 / FRONT, Edition: Final
    Sat, Mar 1, 2003

    (PS: Take old quarters; the microfilm printer machines at the Greater Victoria Public Library reject new quarters for copies.)

  74. DWA responds:

    Dainiel:

    I might be mistaken on this but I don’t think a top-down, end-to-end drag of the loch has been done, with current technology. If we long ago were able to track Russian submarines in the vastness of the oceans, then we have what it takes to do this. I think that Matt Bille also suggested this in a recent post (forget the thread). I’m also not sure what the massive observation campaigns consisted of (although one might argue that Ness is under pretty constant surveillance as is).

    Now of course I can understand why some people (particularly Inverness Chamber of Commerce types) might not want to have their bubble popped. Cost might be another obstacle. Availability of equipment (and willingness to loan) might be yet another.

    There is one photo taken in the loch, about 30 years or so ago, that I can’t get over. It seems to show what looks like a plesiosaur fin (and I’m no more likely to see shapes in clouds than the next guy). That one’s had me scratching my head.

    But I would say, that unless such an effort as I’m talking about is mounted, well, good luck Rock Ness. And if it has been already, well, another incantation wouldn’t hurt, I guess. :-D

  75. mystery_man responds:

    Thank you for the kind words PhotoExpert. They are much appreciated.

    AtomicMrEmonster- Thanks for the images you posted. I am always happy to see any sort of visual evidence for any theories. Nice images.

    A few more thoughts on Lake Monsters here even though it seems the debate has died down. Being a skeptic myself, especially of Lake Monsters, there are a few nagging things that bother me about some of the mainstream skeptical theories and things that I don’t think can conveniently be explained away. Here it goes.

    First of all, I fully entertain the notion that common animals are seen by visitors and can be misidentified. I can appreciate how various swimming animals such as elk, beavers, otters, and so on can create the illusion of something strange to the untrained eye or under the right conditions, and I think a lot of images have been put forward that support that. What bothers me about this hypothesis is that lakes that are said to harbor monsters are not the only lakes that represent this sort of wildlife. There are many, many lakes that have otters, beavers, moose, and so on, yet do not have any reports of lake monsters. How to explain this? If these creatures really are causing all the reports of lake monsters, then why don’t all lakes that have these very same creatures and just as many tourists have these sorts of reports? It seems strange that one lake with tourists and otters could be said to have a Lake Monster based on false identifications of common animals, yet another Lake with the same wildlife and conditions does not any reports or alleged monster at all. Conversely, why are there sometimes reports of lake monsters where these otters and other wildlife are not present?

    Second. When I read any witness reports of lake monsters, a common description through all of them is that of the alleged creature’s size. There just are not many reports of anything within the size range of an otter, not even especially large species of them. Even in a line, otters are not especially massive creatures, and the animals reported outsize moose too. I can see witness misjudgment of size to an extent, but not when a lot of the reports are describing quite huge animals. I cannot see how the posted footage above of a mother otter and baby could be misidentified for something as massive as what is often reported. If the size is the illusion, what are the plausible reasons how a fairly small beaver, water bird, or otter could become so large in the witnesses eyes?

    Third. Another thing that I find hard to explain is that lake monsters within the same lake will show similar appearances in the reports. These reports of a lake monster in one lake will differ from the appearance reported in other lakes, with often uniform features reported within the same lake. Now if both lakes have the same sort of wildlife that could potentially be misidentified, then why is there a uniform difference between what is reported within one lake and what is seen in another? Otters swimming in a line, for instance, will look similar in any lake, yet lake monsters from lake to lake can vary wildly in appearance.

    As I said, I am skeptic and I appreciate skeptical inquiry, but I don’t think these questions can be readily written off. These are all things that make me think. I must add that if anyone wants to respond to this post, I hope you will do so in a civil, engaging manner. I do not wish anyone to offer snide dismissals to anything I’ve said here or try to pull an expert card, or try to start an argument. I’m here for answers. I’ve put forth some rational questions, I’d appreciate rational responses. Thanks.

  76. Daniel Loxton responds:

    DWA writes,

    I might be mistaken on this but I don’t think a top-down, end-to-end drag of the loch has been done, with current technology.

    Unfortunately, complete end-to-end sonar drags of the loch have been done — several times. Most recently, the BBC-sponsored sonar survey in 2003 swept the entire lake using the most up-to-date technology. But this survey only confirmed the results of many previous top-to-bottom, end-to-end sonar sweeps. In 1962, a team from Cambridge created a sonar dragnet using a small fleet of boats, allowing them to scan the entire lake six times. The largest effort was undertaken by Adrian Shine’s people in 1987: “Operation Deepscan” swept the entire lake with a sonar curtain using a fleet of 20 boats, which were followed by an additional fleet whose job it was to probe and document any sonar contacts detected by the dragnet.

    So far, no dice.

    I’m also not sure what the massive observation campaigns consisted of (although one might argue that Ness is under pretty constant surveillance as is).

    Your point about the informal surveillance is a good one. In addition, there have been several organized observation campaigns, starting with the 1934 Edward Mountain expedition (in which 20 men were stationed around the loch with cameras). The largest such effort was run by the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau in the 1960s and 70s, which used giant telephoto movie cameras mounted on viewing platforms and camera trucks. It ran for several years, unfortunately with no luck whatsoever.

    For a fairly complete and concise survey of the history of Loch Ness investigation, see my 10-page article in Skeptic Vol 11, #1.

  77. Daniel Loxton responds:

    mystery_man writes:

    Being a skeptic myself, especially of Lake Monsters, there are a few nagging things that bother me about some of the mainstream skeptical theories and things that I don’t think can conveniently be explained away. Here it goes.

    These are really good questions, mystery_man! I think I can help with one or two of them.

    First of all, I fully entertain the notion that common animals are seen by visitors and can be misidentified. … What bothers me about this hypothesis is that lakes that are said to harbor monsters are not the only lakes that represent this sort of wildlife. There are many, many lakes that have otters, beavers, moose, and so on, yet do not have any reports of lake monsters. How to explain this?

    I think the main difference must be expectation. Any splash, object, or creature on Loch Ness will suggest a monster, at least to some viewers or under some conditions. The same phenomenon seen in your local trout lake might not carry the same thrill of possibility.

    Despite this, it’s my impression that these same sorts of everyday phenomenon — otters, waves, and so on — actually are sometimes interpreted as monsters, wherever they’re spotted. It’s a bit of a problem for the “undiscovered species” hypothesis that lakes all over the world are now said to have their own monsters. Big lakes, small lakes, lakes in many countries and many climates — according to Loren Coleman, “more than a thousand lakes around the world harbor large, unknown animals unrecognized by conventional zoology.”

    I regard this as an issue of multiplying improbabilities…

    Second. When I read any witness reports of lake monsters, a common description through all of them is that of the alleged creature’s size. There just are not many reports of anything within the size range of an otter, not even especially large species of them.

    I’m not too bothered by this, as people are absolutely terrible at judging the size of objects out on the water. We know for a fact that small animals such as cormorants have been mistaken for large monsters. In those cases in which it is possible to test eyewitness descriptions of the size of lake monsters (see, for example, Nickell and Radford’s work on the Mansi photo in Lake Monster Mysteries, in which it is established that the object is less than half the size of previous estimates), it almost inevitably proves to be the case that the size of the monster was exaggerated by the witness. (This reminds me of my own experience as a shepherd: it was rarely the case that anyone out there encountered a small, juvenile grizzly bear; by and large, they were all Shardik.)

    I’d add a couple more points regarding the size of reported monsters. First, relatively small monsters quite often are reported. Second, many of the sources of misinterpretation are in themselves very large phenomena, such as logs or boat wakes.

    Third. Another thing that I find hard to explain is that lake monsters within the same lake will show similar appearances in the reports. … Otters swimming in a line, for instance, will look similar in any lake, yet lake monsters from lake to lake can vary wildly in appearance.

    It’s important to realize that monster reports are not, in fact, consistent within a single lake. At Loch Ness, for example, it is common for Nessie to be described as variously plesiosaur-like, or a single large hump, or many humps, or writhing coils. Nessie is described as having a head like a sheep, horse, snake, or indistinct blob; of having horns or not; of being almost any size, color, or sheen; and so on. (This has led to some amusing attempts to reconcile the various conflicting reports, in which a plesiosaur has pasted onto it several humps like a camel. For more on eyewitness differences at Loch Ness, see for example)

    Furthermore, this is the case at other monster lakes as well (as covered recently in the Nickell / Radford book).

    It seems to be the case that it is less the witnesses that are consistent than the public persona of the monster. (This has annoyed cryptozoologists, by the way: the idea that Nessie is a plesiosaur is both so pervasive and — sadly — silly, that it makes it difficult to open room for other explanations.)

  78. mystery_man responds:

    Daniel Loxton- Thank you for your thorough, rational insights into my questions. It is much appreciated and I enjoy this sort of exchange of ideas. Some thoughts.

    I can see what you mean about witness expectation. That is a very good point. If someone were to see a swimming otter in a lake that is not said to harbor any monster, their first reaction would perhaps not be to think it is a mystery animal, whereas in Loch Ness, Lake Champlain, etc, there would be more of the inclination to think “hey it must be the monster!”. This leaves the question of why the lake is said to harbor a monster in the first place, though. I think it is possible that the whole thing could start with a hoax and then snowball from there. All it takes is one, well publicized bogus monster report to start making everybody think they are seeing monsters. I think an example of this happening can be found in lakes where the monster sightings have begun rather recently, with nothing on record before that.

    Concerning size, I suppose that could be linked to expectation as well combined with poor size judgement of a waterborne object. If the witness is convinced what they are seeing is the monster, I suppose that in their mind’s eye, they could remember it being much larger than it actually was. The thing that still bothers me is how much can we really count on this always being the case? There are people who are quite experienced with being on the water or live on the lake, yet still report great sizes. I am hesitant to say they all must be making mistakes of size perception. Boat wakes and such could be behind these, but not where the description obviously points to a living creature, i.e. it has a head.

    I guess I may be wrong with the uniform descriptions of lake monsters, but I was under the impression that monsters such as Champ were fairly regularly reported as having a similar appearance. Of course not all reports, but a good enough number that one could imagine these witnesses were seeing the same thing. I could be wrong about that as lake monsters are not my forte, but is it not true that a good deal of reports have shared characteristics? I suppose even if there were uniform reports, this could still be explained. Perhaps in one particular lake, there is more odd wave activity than otters, etc, and so since the monster reports are based on wave patterns, they share similar descriptions whereas in another lake where otters are the culprit, those reports would include different descriptions. If there is a lot of otter activity in one lake and a lot of moose or wave activity in another lake, or bird activity in another, then just by numbers, the reports are going to lean towards an appearance of what is most common. Hmmm. Interesting speculation.

    Thank you Daniel Loxton, for your informative insight and discussing these things with me. I look forward to any other ideas you might have or any thoughts on what I’ve said here. I find you to be a very rational, open minded, and willing to listen to other’s ideas. I feel more rational, plausible skeptical input such as yours is a welcome addition to this site. Thanks again.

  79. DWA responds:

    Daniel:

    You might have a better time with springheeledjack, who as a bigger lake monster fan than me would have, I’d think, much more grasp on what, exactly, has been done in the way of searches of this type.

    Part of my problem with Nessie is that whatever’s been done, the loch ain’t that big, compared to, say, the possible range of the sasquatch or the yeti. It’s got walls, ferpetesake. And I’m not buying that the big guy leaves the lake through an underwater passageway – until somebody shows there is one.

    And a size range between, as I understand it, 10 and 187 feet isn’t doing it for me neither. Not ruling it out; but maybe I need to be more conversant with the data.

    OK, SHJ, I’ve set the table. So show up already…! :-D

  80. AtomicMrEMonster responds:

    AtMEM says: “And on a final (unrelated) note, how is Mr. Radford’s
    “patronizing” post different from a typical DWA post or some of Mr.
    Coleman’s posts in this thread (without an emoticon attached)? Let’s
    not play favorite here.”

    Exactly. Let’s not. STOP DEFENDING RADFORD WHEN HE CALLS PEOPLE STUPID,
    FOR DOING THINGS HE DOES REGULARLY.

    The thing is that what he’s doing and what others are doing aren’t the same.

    From what I can tell (and I could be mistaken), Mr. Radford is getting annoyed that people are poo-pooing the idea of a documented behavior attributed to scientifically recognized animals that has been documented in (presumably, seeing as how it’s a journal) peer-reviewed materials whereas others support the idea of reports of, films of, etc. “unknown animals” being good enough to justify their existence. Eyewitness reports of, films, pictures, etc. of otters carry more weight than those of cryptids is because people know otters are real because they have been studied and proven to exist. Otter corpses have been examined, some types of otters were hunted into near-extinction for their very real fur (And I’m not talking little clumps of it either, I’m talking complete pelts), scientists know how to recognize otter DNA, you can see them for yourselves at your local zoo/aquarium/Sea World-style park (or you can see stuffed ones at musuems if you prefer dead ones), etc.

    Could pictures or films of otters swimming in lines be faked? Sure. But unlike pictures of Bigfoot, Nessie, etc. there’s no reason to fake something like that. Why fake something that’s said to be common? Cryptid hoax pictures bring attention, the high possibility of money, etc.; pictures of otters swimming in a line will probably get you a “Um, yeah…that’s nice” and probably some amount of money from a nature magazine or stock image collection (but I doubt you’d get as much as one would get for a “sensational monster picture”). And really, why go through the trouble of faking it when it can be photographed in real life?

    It’s kind of like what happened with the platypus…many scientists of the time thought the idea of a mammal with a bill (that laid eggs to boot) was laughable. It wasn’t until someone brought in a pelt some scientists could examine. After they determined that it really wasn’t the remains of an otter with a duck’s bill artificially attached to it, they basically said “Okay, you were right and we were wrong…this thing is real.” If it’s real, tangible, and shown not to be a hoax, then scientists will be far more likely to accept (or at least pay attention to) reports of known animals doing something.

    And then you’ve gotta factor in the BugMO stuff. On a post timestamped June 5th, 2007 at 5:42 pm, he says:

    I have a question for everyone, especially those who believe that a sighting of a lake monster can be explained as someone simply misidentifying a lake monster for an overly large eel. My question is if all the sightings of Lake Monster throughout history and from all over the world are misidentified giant eels…

    And when Mr. Radford said that nobody has ever claimed that “all the sightings of Lake Monster throughout history and from all over the world are misidentified giant eels,” BugMO responded with a copy-paste of this Radford quote (timestamped “June 5th, 2007 at 6:21 pm”):

    “there is little doubt that the lake contains many eels, so it isn’t much of a stretch to think that Cressie, the “eel-like” lake monster, actually is an eel.”

    Which not only shows that Mr. Radford didn’t claim that all lake monster sightings were misidentified giant eels (I seem to recall him saying that there are several different explanations for lake monsters), but it also doesn’t really reflect well on BugMO since he seems to think that a quote about how an eel-like monster that’s supposed to be in a lake with a large number of eels could be an eel itself is saying that all lake monsters are just giant eels.

    You replied to BugMO’s question saying

    June 5th, 2007 at 5:48 pm
    BugMO: let me help you with that one.

    The intent of the eel hypothesis is simply to introduce another favorite fish of scoftics: the red herring.

    The intent is to debunk while remaining in one’s armchair. Why, everyone knows what an eel is! I’ll simply say it’s an eel, and the hoi polloi will buy it! The intent has nothing to do with serious thought as to what this phenomenon might be; it has to do with dismissing it without having to go to the hard work of engaging in serious thought.

    He replied saying:

    DWA that’s exactly my point. What’s the point in getting one’s hands dirty? When it’s easier to just explain something away with an even less believable explanation.

    He later said

    Boy, it must be nice to be able to explain some of the world’s most bizarre phenomenon with the simplest answers. Being quoted in newspapers and magazines, going on TV shows to explain to the viewing audience how simple it is to debunk some of the most puzzling mysteries the world has ever seen, with the simplest answers. Then, ask all of the believers of said strange phenomenon to give the world more credible proof of the phenomenon they believe is true. Then, when more credible proof is given you simple have to either give another simple answer or you could just ignore the so called proof. Either way you won’t have to do much work.

    And with all that in mind, is it really all that hard to believe that Mr. Radford would interpret this as being directed at him? And don’t you think that someone who’s done hard work and been accused of doing otherwise would get pissed off?

    And if I got you riled up (at least that’s what I’m assuming is why you used some sentences in “all caps”) with a single post directed at you, imagine how pissed off Mr. Radford could’ve gotten over all of those posts I previously mentioned combined!

    To be fair, you do have a point about Mr. Radford not doing the work to show pictures of otters. In fact, I was originally planning on taking him to task for that. What stopped me from doing so was remembering that my readings of Mr. Radford’s posts said to me that he thinks that such pictures are easy to find. After all, he did cite a document by someone from the Sea World Institute (which I’d expect to study the behavior of otters) saying this. And when people started saying that they couldn’t find such pictures and started making snide comments about about the rarity of this behavior in otters, I can see why he’d react badly.

    Although it’s understandable for him to get angry over all this happening at once, it’s not good that he fell into the old “Well if they’re going to be difficult, so will I” trap since it robbed him of his credibility in the argument. Then again, that sort of stuff kept going even after I posted the pictures that Mr. Coleman requested. Mr. Coleman, for whatever reason, did not clarify what he wanted when Mr. Radford asked him to definitively state his position on the whole otter thing. By doing so, he could’ve forced Mr. Radford into a complete corner and left him with no excuse not to post the pictures.

    Come to think of it, if people here have cited “but so many people have reported ____” as a valid excuse to his skepticism, couldn’t he have been trying to “reach you on your own level” by using the same reasoning (applied to animals that no sane person doubts exist)? But I could just be overthinking this, though.

    Now that I have your attention: if you think that Ben post that you’re
    [use appropriate substitute word for “defending”] is anything like a
    “typical” post of mine, you don’t come here often enough. (And you
    probably don’t, judging by how often I see that handle.)

    Well, you don’t see my handle often because I tend to read stuff here without commenting. In fact, the sole reason that I registered for an account here was to post in this topic. I’ve been visiting the site since 2006. I was going to cite various references to posts made in 2006 and 2007 as proof of my visiting here (like “little chocolate donuts,” the Johor hoax, etc.), but then I considered that anyone who poked around the archives could do that. So instead, you might want to ask whoever runs the “editor@cryptomundo.com” account to see if they have an e-mail sent by me on September 7, 2006 called “Interesting Pictures”. Admittedly, some of my opinions in the letter have changed since then, but I did write that letter. I’ve still got it in my sent folder, so I could easily forward it to an editor if it really became nescessary.

    Let’s look at Sergio’s post:

    Benjamin, this is definitely one of the most the most antagonizing, patronizing posts…the implications of one who seemingly is in constant need of inflating oneself at the expense of others…

    Since we seem to be in agreement that Mr. Radford’s posts in this thread fit those qualities, let’s see how you and Mr. Coleman stack up. You first:

    “skeptics” (still having problems with gross misapplications of that word) on explanations my six-year-old wouldn’t get away with.

    Compared to how many thousands of eyewitness accounts of the sasquatch…? So thanks, too, for the confirmation that eyewitnesses constitute pretty durn strong evidence. Finally we got there.

    I’ve seen one otter in my life, coming right at me in the water from a few feet away, in Corkscrew Swamp, FL. He was a big ‘un. “Lake monster” is the last thing anyone could have thought.

    I’d prefer a simple effort being made to confirm what people are seeing, rather than a whole bunch of armchair theories about why they couldn’t possibly be seeing that.

    One should be careful of one’s petards on this site. Hoisting comes unexpectedly.

    Your response to BugMO fits in here too. I suppose at I could grab quotes from other topics, but look at the time I’m writing this…I’ve got work tomorrow…

    As for Mr. Coleman:

    Reasonably? This is otterly overwhelming. Otterly ridiculous.

    Indeed, Nickell does use this simplistic broad brush to explain several Lake Monster reports.

    Let’s see…there are lakes with otters in them that have reports of a monster being in it. Otters can swim in lines and look similar to a giant serpent (and exhibit other behavior that those unfamiliar with them might mistake for that of an unknown animal and wakes left by them) and speculating that otters could be the cause of this is ridiculous?

    Sure, it could be a case of a lake with otters and an unknown animal, but when you factor in all the stuff otters can do that people can mistake for an unknown animal, the otter explanation for lakes with otters living in them isn’t entirely unlikely.

    [blockquote]Ben, I am a little worried about your research skills if you can’t find any images of giraffe birthing on the internet. think you’ve shown your hand here, demonstrating that skeptics may not be able to keep up-to-date on technological research techniques (using google instead of google images, for example) and instead employing old standards like “just because I’ve never seen a giraffe doesn’t mean giraffe’s don’t exist.”

    Come on, Ben, try to get out a little more. [/blockquote]

    Even if you assume that the emoticon applies to his entire post and not just to that setence, it still reflects poorly on Mr. Coleman. Imagine me insulting you and then takcing an emoticon at the end. Does that make it any less annoying?

    Oh, and I don’t think it’s fair to imply that I’m playing favorites by pointing out posts from people besides the Radford post in question are similar in tone. After all, shouldn’t everyone who posts stuff like that get “called out” together? And by comparing a post belittling one’s knowledge to posts by yourself and Mr. Coleman, aren’t I implying that you’re all (Mr. Radford included) doing something negative? I can’t see how I’m playing favorites here.

    Nope. That possibility is overlooked because a line of sea otters heading for fresh water to do a lake monster imitation for tourists is about as likely as a giant squid’s doing it. As is the similar claim about Nessie puttin’ on a wee miner’s lamp an’ hiddin’ to the sea.

    Oh good, you don’t believe that Nessie theory (Come to think of it, isn’t there a “lock” in the Caledonian Canal that connects Loch Ness to the sea that would make it impossible for a a creature as large as Nessis is alleged to be slip by unnoticed?). Since the otter thing I
    brought up was to show that some explanations involving otters were no more fantastic than ones involving a large unknown animal, with sea otters being mentioned just in case someone tried to attribute young otters swimming in line after their mother to be a behavior linked only to sea otters. They’d be wrong, but I figured that I should try to show how lines of otters could still be used to some monster sightings in bodies of water connected to the sea in some manner. And when you think about it, the sea otter idea isn’t entirely unlikely since sea otters have been described as curious, playful creatures and they don’t need salt water to survive, it’s not impossible to imagine that they could wander in and not get noticed because they’d be easily recognized as being otters. And correct me if I’m wrong, but haven’t seals occasionally wandered into Loch Ness (and other Scottish bodies of water)? But since we both agree that this particular Nessie theory isn’t likely, I see no point in discussing the matter further.

    It’s a frequent skeptic tack, in fact, to justify not-too-damn-likely debunking explanations by comparing them with the most-way-out-there proponent schemes. Definitely not according to Hoyle, that. Let’s stick to Occam’s Razor, K?

    B…but I just showed how my idea wasn’t entirely without merit! Come to think of it, I am sticking with Occam’s Razor, which states
    that “entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.” This can be paraphrased as “the simplest explanation is usally the most likely one” and/or “the path with the least amount of unknowns is usually the correct one.” How are otters, which can be found at Loch Ness, along with other possible misidentifications (Remember, Mr. Coleman was cherry-picking sightings that were given otter explanations) less simple/less unknown than an unknown animal? You’ve said that you’re not sure about lake monsters, yet you also said that

    I also think there should be the consideration that perhaps maybe it is something unknown causing these witness accounts in some cases.

    I’m also seeing a rather condescending tone here not unlike the one in Mr. Radford’s response to BugMO. I hope this is unintentional and/or just due to my perception. This is also an example of what is, at least in my mind, a “typical DWA post”: “Hee hee, har har, look at those dumb skeptics…I mean scoffics. How dare they suggest that we’re not right about this. They just sit around and do nothing, unlike smart, true skeptics like me.”

    Ugly? Yes, but that’s honestly how many of your posts seem to me.

    Um, no they weren’t, in so many words.

    What folks were doing was simply yanking Ben’s chain the way he likes to yank theirs.

    Doesn’t such immaturity rob them of their own credibility? If someone got their first brush with cryptozoology by stumbling across this topic, how do you think they’d react? I’d think they’d leave with a very low opinion of those interested in cryptozoology and wonder why such people get upset when mainstream science doesn’t usually take them seriously.

    And if they’re just being rude since they see Mr. Radford’s actions as being rude, isn’t that still bad? Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    And BTW, it’s flat wrong that “all possible (common) explanations/factors should be examined before declaring it to be
    something unknown to science.” First of all, you never declare something unknown to science.

    Wow…I actually feel bad about what I’m about to post next, but:

    “DWA responds: June 6th, 2007 at 4:07 pm:

    …And now you have to narrow down to the very few where this seems like a real Thing To Do. And I’d argue Nessie is one – however many the false positives; whatever the likelihood of it being something unknown to science.”

    So why is it wrong when I use that phrase but it’s okay when you do? And why is it wrong to make sure that all possible explanations involving natural phenomena (I’ll leave out hoaxes for simplicity’s sake) before leaping to conclusions about it being something else? Didn’t you just say to do that in the above quote?

    It’s not that proponents are dedicated to out-debunking the debunkers.
    It’s that they’re pretty damn tired of the simple, logical, quite plausible possibility that we have a new animal here getting, well,
    laughed at by people offering even more laughable reasons it ain’t so.

    How is an unknown animal more likely than misidentifications of various wildlife, memories and details of sightings fading/changing over time, etc.? Please tell me, I honestly want to understand.

    You speculate, intelligently thank you, as to what the evidence indicates it might be, then you take steps to CONFIRM ITS EXISTENCE.

    Am I reading this wrong or are you saying that one should form an opinion based on speculation regarding evidence and then set out to prove the speculation? If so, that’s against the scientific method. Using the scientific method, you’re supposed to come up with a hypothesis based on data (in this case, the evidence) and then you test it to see if it’s correct. If the tests show that it isn’t correct, you form a new hypothesis and keep testing until you find something that works and can be duplicated.

    But if you didn’t mean it that way, I apologize for misunderstanding.

    Mr. Loxton pretty much summed up why some people have a problem believing that an unknown creature is in Loch Ness when he brought up all those expeditions that turned up nothing.

    Some might bring up the strange sonar readings that have been reported in the lake This offers a good explanation. There’s also the question of how skilled the operators of the sonar equipment were and if the right type of sonar equipment was being used. If the operators were properly skilled, (and I only ask this since I don’t know and have read allegations saying they weren’t), used the right type of equipment, and the explanation I linked to earlier isn’t like the reports of mysterious sonar readings (and if no other possible explanations can be given), then one can say “Hey, I think there could be some sort of unknown animal here” and not be off-base.

  81. AtomicMrEMonster responds:

    asrai:

    AtMEM: thank you for posting all the footage of otters. although it does show otters sort of swimming in lines, i still don’t see how any
    of this footage could be misinterpreted as a lake monster.

    You’re welcome and thank you for the kind reply. Personally, I think that beaver/otter video looks pretty monsterish, but I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. Although I should note that beavers have only recently been reintroduced to Scotland, so it’s not a viable explanation for any pre 2006 Nessie sightings. It could apply to other lakes, though.

    and also let me remind you that i didn’t say that they didn’t swim in lines, just that it might not be that common.

    Heh. I never said that you did, but fair enough.

    mystery_man:

    I really, REALLY need to get some sleep right now, so I’m going to have to take the cheap way out and recommend that you check out a book called “The Loch Ness Monster: The Evidence” by Steuart Campbell (Amazingly, that’s not a typo caused by sleep deprivation).

    It has a lot of interesting notes about things that can be mistaken for lake monsters besides animals: vegetable mats, sunken logs propelled by gas (this only occurs with certain kinds of tree), mirages caused by temperature differences between the cool lake and warm air, etc. It also discusses how things like bones, drownings, and other factors could make people in “the olden times” think a monster was in a lake and then have legends pass the idea through the ages. I find that Campbell brushes over things at times and istoo dismissive at the end, but it’s still a neat book and I can at least see how he came to the conclusions that I disagree with.

    Oh, and I completely agree with the “snowball” thing. All you need is one misidentification (and possibly a few lying attention-seekers) to get the ball rolling on the idea of a monster being in a lake. That, and people tend to label anything they don’t immediately recognize as being something scary…like a monster. That, coupled with size distortion due to surprise, lack of reference points, the minor distortion abilities of water, etc. can make things seem bigger and more “monsterish.” Otters can fit this bill; trust me, those things are a lot bigger than you’d think they are. Swing by your local aquarium or zoo sometime and you’ll see what I mean. Thanks for the kind words about the pictures! I’m really glad that some people actually saw them.

  82. mystery_man responds:

    MrAtomicEmonster- Yes, I know how big otters can get. I have been to the aquarium a few times since I am a science teacher fer Pete’s sake! You are right that they get bigger than some would think. I can wrap my head around it and appreciate the size of wildlife inhabiting the areas around a lake. They get big, but not in the range that is reported for some lake monsters. Even with visual distortion and surprise, it is a big jump to some of the sizes reported and I don’t think we can seriously rely on all eyewitnesses routinely exaggerating the size of these otters by many times over. I think that’s the easy way out and being a scientist, I need more of an answer than that. In my opinion, some of the bigger natural phenomena closer to eyewitness descriptions are a more likely culprit. Although undoubtedly otters may account for some of the sightings, I cannot accept that a creature the size of an otter can be consistently misjudged for size to the point that it can account for a majority of the sightings without more compelling evidence, so I tend to try and look into other possibilities as well. Thanks for the recommended reading. It sounds like something I’d enjoy. I, like you, have no vested interest in disproving or proving lake monsters. I am just curious to get to the bottom of it as much as I can in as unbiased and scientific a way as possible.

    One reason I think we should be careful to pigeonhole witnesses into people who cannot judge size or constantly exaggerate is the fact that there ARE good size judgments made by people all of the time in situations ranging from wildlife observation to crime witnesses. This applies even to people that are surprised. I remember taking some students to look at Japanese Giant Salamanders at the zoo since I help study them in the field from time to time and thought they’d enjoy them. None of them knew what to expect and they were all awed by the salamanders before them. When asked how big they thought they were, guess what? They guessed reasonably correctly. A simple example, but telling I think. The same holds true for all the people who see known animals, sometimes under surprised conditions and yet make accurate size estimates nevertheless. Are we to say that all people sighting a known animal are getting the size completely wrong? That would be a pretty far fetched assumption if you ask me and something I hesitate to rely too much on as an end all be all answer.

    I feel saying that all of the eyewitnesses must be making size mistakes is to conveniently ignore all of the cases where people do make good size judgement, from animal watchers to biologists, to people who just happen to sight an animal, and this smacks of cherry picking to me. The fact that people can be relied upon to sometimes correctly estimate size shows to me that we should not be so hasty to automatically disregard the sizes they claim if they don’t fit into a skeptic theory and keep in mind that they may not all be imagining huge sizes or magnifying beavers into lake monsters. This is especially true for any witness who has any experience with wildlife or being on the water. Again, I am sure that it does happen, but I feel it would be wise not to paint witnesses with such a broad brush considering that there ARE accurate observations of animals out there.

    Incidentally, I showed some of the images presented here to my wife, friends and colleagues and asked them what they saw in the pictures. Nobody jumped to lake Monster. Even with images that were not immediately obvious, everyone asked “is that some kind of bird? A beaver?”. The point is they were thinking rationally and trying to fit what they saw into what they know. I am sure that we can rely on some witnesses to try and figure out what sort of known animal they might be seeing first, before making any claims of seeing a monster, and this suggests to me that some really have seen something odd indeed. I have been fishing for years and seen weird things in the water and did not figure it to be something unknown to science, but rather tried to deduce what I saw. Of course I do work in a scientific field so that’s the way I think, but still, something to think about.

    I think that witness expectation and misrepresentation does happen, and I explained in my other post how I can appreciate this solution in some situations. The truth is I am sure that many lake monster sightings can be attributed to a hundred strange things that can pop up in a lake. Expectation, surprise, visual distortion can all play a role in some sightings, but not all can easily be written off, I would say. I just feel it would be wise to not assume that everyone who claims to see a lake monster is an inexperienced, gullible, ill informed person with poor perception skills and a propensity to think anything strange in the water must be a monster. I bet if I read every single sighting report, I’d find people who do not fit into this mold at all.

  83. Daniel Loxton responds:

    mystery_man, thanks so much for the kind words! Much appreciated.

    I think your speculation about the relative frequency of sources of misinterpretation (otters, waves, etc) at different lakes is liable to be an important factor. It certainly puts the spotlight on an often-overlooked issue in considering eyewitness evidence as a whole: in the case of every major cryptid, the eyewitness database certainly records multiple phenomena (including a variety of hoaxes, numerous inanimate objects, and several species of known animals). It’s my feeling that a majority of cryptid reports must represent misinterpretation errors, and then of several different types (such as wakes, otters, and birds all being mistaken for Ogopogo; or, bears, humans, and stumps all being mistaken for Bigfoot).

    No matter how you slice it, that has to skew the data — probably in more than one direction. And we do see that “multiple spike” effect in the Nessie data, with many witnesses reporting the “overturned boat”-type body and many others reporting the “multiple-hump”-type body.

  84. mystery_man responds:

    Sorry for the long winded posts, folks. It’s just that lake monsters is one area of cryptozoology that I admittedly am not as informed on as other cryptids, so I am enjoying getting my ideas out and seeing the so far excellent responses to them. This is an area I wish to learn more about, so I am enjoying the exchange of ideas and new information, as well as the images provided by PhotoExpert and MrAtomicEmonster.

  85. mystery_man responds:

    MrAtomicEmonster- Oh, by the way, thanks for pointing out the other things that can cause lake monster reports. In my earlier post, though, I mentioned animals that are found in many lakes that do not have a reported monster despite having the same animals as those that do but animals are just one example. That would apply for all of the phenomena you mentioned too since they are all things intrinsic to lakes and yet some lakes with these very things make no claim to a lake monster. Then again, we did discuss the possibility of a bogus sighting snowballing, so these other phenomena would factor in there too. Anyway, thanks for your good comments.

    Daniel Loxton- Again, thank you for your informative and well considered responses to what I’ve been saying. As I have said, I am eager to learn more about lake monster sightings and your replies have been appreciated.

  86. DWA responds:

    ATMrEM: I think I got that right. Didn’t peek. :-D

    Way too much to respond to in the short time I have, but I’ll focus on this:

    ————————–

    Am I reading this wrong or are you saying that one should form an opinion based on speculation regarding evidence and then set out to prove the speculation? If so, that’s against the scientific method. Using the scientific method, you’re supposed to come up with a hypothesis based on data (in this case, the evidence) and then you test it to see if it’s correct. If the tests show that it isn’t correct, you form a new hypothesis and keep testing until you find something that works and can be duplicated.”

    ——————

    What you’re saying should be done is exactly what I say should be done. You’re just using more (to you) pejorative words to characterize what I said. A hypothesis (speculation) based on evidence (data) needs to be postulated, and then you test it to see if it’s correct (set out to prove the speculation). A hypothesis is speculation. It should just be educated speculation. It’s better, in fact, to just quote what I said. “Taking steps to confirm its existence” is not the same as “treating the hypothesis as a foregone conclusion.” You still have to find the conclusive evidence.

    I might also note here that in a now-archaic but better-than-current sense, the word “prove” means “test.”

  87. AtomicMrEMonster responds:

    mystery_man says:

    You are right that they get bigger than some would think. I can wrap my head around it and appreciate the size of wildlife inhabiting the areas around a lake. They get big, but not in the range that is reported for some lake monsters. Even with visual distortion and surprise, it is a big jump to some of the sizes reported and I don’t think we can seriously rely on all eyewitnesses routinely exaggerating the size of these otters by many times over.

    Agreed. Otters can’t be applied to all lake monster sightings and I do agree with you that there’s a limit to the amount of extra size that a person being startled can apply to something. If all possible explanations for something in a certain size range can’t be applied to a sighting due to some factor(s), then the possibility of an unknown animal should be considered.

    The only time that wouldn’t apply is if you could find some sort of flaw(s) in the eyewitness report. For example, let’s look at the Spicer report that was mentioned earlier (I’m citing p.31-32 of Steuart Campbell’s The Loch Ness Monster: The Evidence):

    “Mr and Mrs F.T.G Spicer” from London were driving between Dores and Foyers at about 4 p.m. on 22 July 1933 when they saw something about 200m ahead. It was a horizontal, trunk-like object emerging from the bushes above the road, the trunk undulating above the road surface.” Spicer is quoted as saying “It did not move in the usual reptilian fashion but with these arches. The body shot across the road in jerks…Although I accelerated towards it, it had vanished by the time we reached the spot…I…could see where it had gone down through the bracken, but there was no sign of it in the water. The body was about five feet [1.5 m] in height and filled the road…I estimated the length to be twenty-five to thirty feet [7-9 m] Its colour…could be called a dark elephant grey. We saw no tail, nor did I notice any mouth on what I took to be the head of the creature. We later concluded that the tail must have been curled around alongside it since there was something protruding above its shoulder which gave the impression that it was carrying something on its back.” (from Nicholas Witchell’s 1975 paperback edition of The Loch Ness Story, p.92-94).

    Campbell also notes on page 32 that Spicer’s first estimate of length was 2m[eters], but changed his estimate to 7.6m[eters] when he was informed that the road was 3.6m[eters] wide. He came upon an estimate of over 9m[eters] three years later. This is cited by Campbell from the 1975 edition of Peter Costello’s In Search of Lake Monsters (p.36).

    Since the over 9m estimate can be chalked up to his memories changing over time, that leaves us with the original 2m and the changed 7.6m esitmate (I’m assuming that he converted the height with those estimates as well). What’s interesting is that Campbell noted that otters up to 2 meters long-including the tail- have been found in the Loch Ness area (p.21). Math’s not my best subject, but I think that converts into around six feet. This means that if the Spicers saw one of those sized otters, it would match up with the original estimate. We know that otters are known to arch their backs and that the creature in the Spicer report was said to move with arches and undulations. The absence of a tail and visible mouth could possibly be explained if it spun around in a panic upon sensing the approaching vehicle and then took off. Otters are quite fast and this quick spinning could explain why it seemed to fill the road. It would also explain why they couldn’t be sure of a tail and why the “head” had no visible mouth, since a large otter’s tail could appear to be a head on a long neck if the otter was rapidly turning around. Try imagining seeing something like this quickly moving around on a road and you might see what I mean. From what I understand, European otters have brown fur, but I’ve found that their fur can appear grey under certain conditions. It’s also possible that the Spicers mistook an otter’s dark brown fur and white underfur for a shade of grey if the animal was rapidly turning around.

    But what of the possibility that Mr. Spicer really had been correct in altering his estimate to 7.6m? Does this size fall into the acceptible range for surprise and other distorting factors? I’m not sure. Sadly, I don’t know if the Spicers are still alive and, if so, if they are in proper mental condition to test their ability to estimate sizes. We can only count this as a potential unknown animal sighting if it wouldn’t fall into that range(And then there’s the issue of the height estimates, but I have no clue how to calculate that. Any help would be greatly appreciated).

    Sorry for using yet another otter story; it’s just that this was the story that most stood out as “probable overexaggeration of size” to me. The book’s got plenty of non-otter sightings. Come to think of it, I should also note that the book mentions the 1967 Dick Raynor film that got brought up as another otter explanation in this topic, but he does not apply an otter explanation to it. Instead, the author notes that Roy P. Mackal thought that the disturbances shown on the film were the result of a large animal and that they “corraborated” Tim Dinsdale’s 1960 film. However, the problem with that is that Tim Dinsdale’s film is probably of a “power dinghy,” seeing as how a local farmer was found to take his out in the same location as the “monster” in the film is shown to be, that he did so at the time the film was said to be shot, and that dinghies seen travelling in the area exhibited similar characteristics to what appeared on the film. The citations that Campbell gives on page 60 are for an article by himself (which I think that’s just a wee bit biased) and an article called “The World of Science – The Problem of the Loch Ness Monster: A Scientific Investigation” by Maurice Burton that appeared in the July 23, 1960 issue of The Illustrated London News on pages 150-152. So we can see that even sightings attributed to otters could have other explanations. You’ve just got to look at all the factors.

    Of course, not all reports will turn out like this, especially if they are examined before enough time has passed to let memories fade and the mind exaggerates things. It’s reports that are found to not be affected by changing memories over time, etc. that are the ones that warrant more investigation into the possibility of unknown animals.

    Incidentally, I showed some of the images presented here to my wife, friends and colleagues and asked them what they saw in the pictures. Nobody jumped to lake Monster. Even with images that were not immediately obvious, everyone asked “is that some kind of bird? A beaver?”. The point is they were thinking rationally and trying to fit what they saw into what they know. I am sure that we can rely on some witnesses to try and figure out what sort of known animal they might be seeing first, before making any claims of seeing a monster, and this suggests to me that some really have seen something odd indeed.

    That is quite possible. On the other hand, people trying to identify things that aren’t immediately identifiable in pictures is similar to people telling what they see in one of those inkblot tests. Those who see rational explanations aren’t going to get noticed because they either won’t report that they saw something they felt was common or that people wouldn’t talk much about their friend/family/colleague seeing seeing an animal in its expected habitat. It’s those that see monsters that get the attention and/or bring attention to themselves, much like the person who identifies an inkblot as showing sprays of blood would get more attention than those who see a butterfly.

    I should also note that witnesses can be tested by having them estimate sizes of a a variety of objects in conditions similar to when/where they made their sighting. Those that pass the test get more credibility than those who don’t. I think we can both agree that it’s always good to test such things whenever possible.

    I just feel it would be wise to not assume that everyone who claims to see a lake monster is an inexperienced, gullible, ill informed person with poor perception skills and a propensity to think anything strange in the water must be a monster.

    Personally, I don’t think it’s fair for anyone to call anyone else who makes (what could be) a common mistake “gullible.” After all, if’s it’s a common mistake, anyone could do it. I know you’re not saying that I said this, but I felt like expressing my opinion anyway. I agree with you that they shouldn’t be immediately dismissed. But if someone looks at the case and points out the factors that hint at a more mundane explanation, then I’d have to give that person’s opinion a fair chance as well. It’s when you get to the stuff that can’t be logically pruned away that the funs begins.

    In my earlier post, though, I mentioned animals that are found in many lakes that do not have a reported monster despite having the same animals as those that do but animals are just one example. That would apply for all of the phenomena you mentioned too since they are all things intrinsic to lakes and yet some lakes with these very things make no claim to a lake monster.

    That is true, but I did leave some stuff out (such as waterlogged livestock corpses), but I must admit that you’ve got a good point. When you really get down to it, it’s a “chicken or the egg” situation; do people see strange things because a monster is in the lake or do people see a monster because they see strange things in a lake? Thanks for the great conversation!

  88. Lyndon responds:

    Daniel Loxton writes;

    Unfortunately, complete end-to-end sonar drags of the loch have been done — several times. Most recently, the BBC-sponsored sonar survey in 2003 swept the entire lake using the most up-to-date technology. But this survey only confirmed the results of many previous top-to-bottom, end-to-end sonar sweeps. In 1962, a team from Cambridge created a sonar dragnet using a small fleet of boats, allowing them to scan the entire lake six times. The largest effort was undertaken by Adrian Shine’s people in 1987: “Operation Deepscan” swept the entire lake with a sonar curtain using a fleet of 20 boats, which were followed by an additional fleet whose job it was to probe and document any sonar contacts detected by the dragnet.

    So far, no dice.

    No dice Daniel? Surely you aren’t forgetting the THREE LARGE sonar contacts made by Operation Deepscan are you??

  89. mystery_man responds:

    AtomicMrEmonster- That is a great example of a flawed witness report, thank you for bringing that to my attention. These kinds of reports I feel are useful to show those that think witnesses NEVER make mistakes can in fact have flaws in their story. I never said that this doesn’t happen, but thank you all the same for posting it. I think it is pretty much agreed that over-exaggerations do happen and that story is good as proof of this, however we are still left with the problem of spinning a few such report into what must be happening with all reports. There must certainly be efforts made to ascertain whether there are inconsistencies or flaws in an eyewitnesses story, but like I said before, people CAN make accurate size judgments and so since misjudgment and spot on estimates can both occur with human perception, it makes it all the harder to sift through the reports.

    I suppose that a reason why lake monster reports could pose more instances of size misjudgment is because since what they perceive to be seeing has no known holotype specimen with which to compare, the mind can go wild with size. A person is not going to often report a 10 foot long otter if they knew it was an otter, but their mind might play tricks when they think it could be some strange creature for which size parameters have not been established. There is no mental block to how big the monster can get so greater exaggerations could occur for this reason I guess. I hope I am making sense! Even so, although the data pool is obviously skewed by mistaken reports as Mr. Loxton noted, I feel it cannot be guaranteed that size misjudgment is an adequate cause for all sightings because proof also exists that correct size can be determined by witnesses as well. This is all great discussion!

    Concerning my little experiment, I really liked your analogy of an inkblot test and I can largely agree. Of course my experiment wasn’t a very scientifically done, thorough test of anything and I was just curious, but some sort of experiment of this nature should and could be made I feel. In the end, you have a good point in that the ones that do rationally perceive what they see won’t report it and those who may be seeing things cry Lake monster. Very interesting point. Biology is more my forte than psychology, but it seems that this dilemma could be cause for further research.

    As for the “gullible” remark, I of course in no way directed that comment at you. I just feel that people have at times proven to be good witnesses and can be relied upon to make good assessments as well as bad, so the automatic assumption should not be made that they are being gullible or are lying, or some such. This obviously happens as is evident by the apparent reluctance with which some come forward, wouldn’t you agree? I just find it unscientific how sometimes a sighting can be written off as, say, an otter, without any real research into whether that particular sighting was indeed that and not a hundred other things. Sure, there are common mistakes, but there are common positive IDs as well. I mean, maybe there’s the possibility they DID see something new to science and I would not want to be the one who missed that boat due to a dismissive approach to a witnesses report and lack of proper investigation. Think about it, even if there is no monster per say, what the witnesses see could lead to shedding light on unusual wave patterns, currents, fish movements, weather effects, and other phenomena. These avenues won’t be found if inaccurate assessments are made to their claims, or hasty conclusions. I don’t want assumptions that a witness is making mistakes or is gullible or ill informed, but rather rational evidence of what they could be seeing. That is what I meant by my remark and I am not saying that you do this at all, I want that to be clear.

    This is an incredible discussion on these things, MrAtomicEmonster, and I think you are rational and really know your stuff. You have given me things to think about and I hope I have done the same for you. This is the type of civil, informative exchange I think we should be having more of in these threads. Being a regular reader here, you probably have seen a lot of my posts, so I think we can agree this thread represents the most I think I’ve ever written of any other thread here. Once a cryptid type that I sort of ignored, Lake monster phenomena is something I am recently becoming more curious about, so thanks again for your thoughtful, engaging posts.

  90. DWA responds:

    mystery_man:

    “I just feel it would be wise to not assume that everyone who claims to see a lake monster is an inexperienced, gullible, ill informed person with poor perception skills and a propensity to think anything strange in the water must be a monster. I bet if I read every single sighting report, I’d find people who do not fit into this mold at all. ”

    Can’t say much about the Nessie database. But for sure, if you read the sasquatch sighting data, you will find A LOT of people who in no way fit into that mold. And they are describing something that in no way could be a mistaken identification of something known. It’s either a lie, or the truth, and if it’s the truth, it’s an animal science hasn’t confirmed yet.

  91. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- It is also interesting how someone will put a good deal of confidence in an experienced outdoorsman’s ability to identify all of the known animals out there accurately, yet when they report something like a Bigfoot, suddenly their experise on forest animals is called into question. I find it curious how they are seen as highly knowledgeable of the animals of the forest when it is mundane animals they are seeing, but when they report something they could not explain despite their experience, something possibly unknown to science, suddenly people are wondering about tricks of perception or how they could have misidentified a common animal. This could be applied to lake monsters and witnesses who happen to be very knowledgeable of the waters and wildlife around the lake.

  92. DWA responds:

    AtMREM: It’s going to take awhile to respond to what may be the longest post I’ve seen on this site. I’m going brick by brick.

    You say: “How is an unknown animal more likely than misidentifications of various wildlife, memories and details of sightings fading/changing over time, etc.? Please tell me, I honestly want to understand.”

    I would think that an unknown animal is no more – but no less -than equally likely as misidentification scenarios that stretch credulity. For example, it’s easier to stomach the possibility that the sasquatch exists than it is that everyone is actually seeing a bear. Or that memories of the sort that could never, in my opinion, fade from a normal person’s mind, have simply faded, and that eight-foot ape, clearly bipedal, with a disturbingly humanlike face, was….well I’ve never seen a bear I could mess up that badly; and I’ve seen lots of bears.

    Could you have one sighting like that? Hmmm. Not sure, unless insanity or substances intervened; but it’s arguable. Two? less likely. Three? You’d have to show me. Even half of the ones I’ve read….? No way. That’s postulating too many insane people, or too many intensely creative liars, who are way too good at fiction. (I’ve tried concocting a sas sighting. I’ve compared what I concocted with what I’ve seen in the best reports I have read, and I have only this to say. If those reports are made up those folks deserve Pulitzers. It’s HARD. And I am a darn good writer.)

    What those of us who are truly skeptical about this issue have a hard time swallowing is the notion that we need to get past otter strings and bipedal bears and really really REALLY big hairy and funny-looking people and fifty-foot eels and substances in what would have to be epic quantities and simple swamp-gas hallucinations in Biblical numbers, before science will even take a look. It says here that there’s too much evidence to settle for less than an honest, open, concerted search. In the field.

    That is in no way too much to ask. And I can show you many things science is doing that are comical, placed next to that. (Please, guys: caffeine is good for you, unless it’s bad. Balanced diet, don’t drink too much, even too much water. We KNOW.)

  93. DWA responds:

    mystery_man: and taking your last – I think, man there are a lot of posts on this thread! – post into account, I also think it unusual that, once again, the simplest explanation is summarily tossed out the window when it comes to cryptids.

    My experiences seeing stuff in the world – and the experiences I can infer that others are having, from all the interactions I have had with people – tell me this:

    The simplest explanation for cryptid sightings, especially when there’s a great degree of consistency over many reports over a long period of time, is that THEY SAW WHAT THEY SAY THEY SAW.

    And we know what Occam says about that.

    To not consider that, alone, as a pretext for serious research into several cryptids – the yeti, the sas, the orang pendek, the thylacine and the sasquatch are my personal candidates – is to say, basically, that no one can trust what he sees.

    And we all know what we all say about THAT.

    People who see cryptids are on Planet Earth, operating by the rules all the rest of us do. They’re not in a nut bubble. They saw something. But the way we react to that – standing the normal rules of perception on their head when a cryptid is the subject – say more to me than anything else about how cryptids have managed to stay cryptic.

    They’re clearly not invisible.

    But people who haven’t seen them – very likely the same percentage of the population that has never seen a wolverine, say, or a wolf, or a cougar, or a flying squirrel – think they are.

  94. DWA responds:

    AtMREM (close enough I’m trusting; honestly my scroll finger’s getting too much of a workout on this thread): I’ll now respond to the below.

    ——————————————–

    I’m also seeing a rather condescending tone here not unlike the one in Mr. Radford’s response to BugMO. I hope this is unintentional and/or just due to my perception. This is also an example of what is, at least in my mind, a “typical DWA post”: “Hee hee, har har, look at those dumb skeptics…I mean scoffics. How dare they suggest that we’re not right about this. They just sit around and do nothing, unlike smart, true skeptics like me.”

    Ugly? Yes, but that’s honestly how many of your posts seem to me.
    ———————

    Well, Ben does strike me that way. (hee hee har har, I mean.) I’m sure you’ll notice Daniel Loxton doesn’t. I don’t suffer foolish behavior (notice I didn’t say “fools”) gladly; and I can’t apologize for that. Ben’s had explanations responses and clear cogent insights bounce off his finish without response or comment – other than cherrypicking and name-calling – time past counting. Sometimes you just want to swat him for the pleasure of it. Yes, I’m glad I’m human. Garbage in, garbage back. When someone can’t be reasoned with, why bother?

    And now this:

    ——————————-

    Um, no they weren’t, in so many words.

    What folks were doing was simply yanking Ben’s chain the way he likes to yank theirs.

    Doesn’t such immaturity rob them of their own credibility? If someone got their first brush with cryptozoology by stumbling across this topic, how do you think they’d react? I’d think they’d leave with a very low opinion of those interested in cryptozoology and wonder why such people get upset when mainstream science doesn’t usually take them seriously.

    ———————————-

    Yep, humanity happens. I can’t really be worried about what people think about crypto. The past 50 years have made that pretty obvious. Cryptos have been nice beyond human expectation, and what has it gotten them? What would worry me is if people left this topic with a high opinion of Ben’s style of discourse. Those folks, I wouldn’t care about what they thought. But I’d worry for their sake.

  95. DWA responds:

    And now this:

    ————————————

    I said: “And BTW, it’s flat wrong that “all possible (common) explanations/factors should be examined before declaring it to be
    something unknown to science.” First of all, you never declare something unknown to science.”

    Then you said: “Wow…I actually feel bad about what I’m about to post next, but:”

    “DWA responds: June 6th, 2007 at 4:07 pm:

    …And now you have to narrow down to the very few where this seems like a real Thing To Do. And I’d argue Nessie is one – however many the false positives; whatever the likelihood of it being something unknown to science.”

    So why is it wrong when I use that phrase but it’s okay when you do? … Didn’t you just say to do that in the above quote?

    ——————–

    No, I didn’t. Really. Read it.

    Nessie is, or isn’t, right now, something unknown to science. It could be a number of phenomena with causes based in things science knows about, e.g., currently known animals. Or it may be an animal that isn’t in the scientific inventory, i.e., currently unknown to science. (It could even be something for which there is no scientific explanation possible, yet. We just don’t know.) My point – semantic though it may be – is that when science declares it something, now it IS known. Science has to get there, or not, by reviewing the evidence, following it up, and pronouncing conclusions, or at least its opinion of the way to bet, based on that follow-up, and not on armchair theories about how many otters make a Nessie.

    I didn’t declare anything anything. I simply said that at this juncture, Nessie could be, well, anything, and science appears unable to pronounce with confidence what it is. If it’s an animal, and not one that is currently known, then it IS an animal unknown to science. But that ain’t exactly a declaration, is it? I agree, it’s all semantics. Just explaining mine.

    But this deserves separate comment:

    ——————————–

    And why is it wrong to make sure that all possible explanations involving natural phenomena (I’ll leave out hoaxes for simplicity’s sake) before leaping to conclusions about it being something else?

    ———————————

    I’d hope nobody’s leaping to ANY conclusions about how many otters make a Nessie. Or any other conclusions.

    What I don’t think it’s proper to do – in the face of a lot of evidence that there’s something out there that needs explaining – is to do, well, armchair speculation on how many otters make a Nessie as a permanent deflector to serious inquiry. Again, I can’t make the same declaration – this is one – that I can make with the sasquatch and the yeti: THOSE PEOPLE ARE NOT SEEING BEARS, OR ANY OTHER KNOWN ANIMAL! But if the evidence for any lake monster contains as many consistent sightings of what appears to be the same animal as that for the sasquatch seems to – and with Nessie I very much doubt that but am open to being shown otherwise – then we need to stop talking otters and get into that loch to do a look that will either say the naysayers are in all likelihood right, or shut them up.

  96. Ceroill responds:

    mystery_man, this is the same attitude that led to the mindset of trusting books on a shelf rather than indigenous peoples describing things they’ve been seeing/encountering for ages (gorilla), or an explorer reporting something extraordinary (platypus), or even suburban folk insisting they’ve seen a large black feline that supposedly shouldn’t exist there.

  97. Daniel Loxton responds:

    Lyndon writes,

    No dice Daniel? Surely you aren’t forgetting the THREE LARGE sonar contacts made by Operation Deepscan are you?

    No, I’m not forgetting those. For those who don’t know, Deepscan made just three sonar contacts which remain unexplained. These were fleeting, mid-sized contacts, which could not be followed up on because they disappeared for whatever reason. Sonar’s tricky, and subject to all sorts of false positive errors. No one knows what these apparent objects were, if anything.

    Certainly, there’s a chance that they represent something of genuine novelty (such as the often-hypothesized Loch Ness sturgeon), but — unfortunately — they were orders of magnitude smaller than the awesome creatures reported by eyewitnesses. (Various estimates put the size of these apparent objects at 50 pounds, about that of a seal, or “larger than a shark” — generally larger than known fish in the loch, but much, much smaller than eyewitness accounts of Nessie.)

    So, “no dice” seems to me the bottom line. Deepscan detected nothing resembling a cool giant monster. The fact that people still hang their hats on these modest sonar contacts only underlines the disappointing truth that Deepscan found a total absence of anything larger.

  98. Lyndon responds:

    “Cool giant monster”? I don’t think many people these days seriously believe there are “cool giant monsters” inhabiting Loch Ness. In that respect then yes it is ‘no dice’. There obviously isn’t a living 30 ft dinosaur in Loch Ness.

    However, the sonar contacts do go some way to supporting the hypothesis that there might well be something strange, mysterious, large and as yet unidentifiable which has served as a basis for influencing many people into believing in ‘Nessie’.

    The contacts were estimated larger than a shark but smaller than a whale and certainly larger than anything ‘known’ to live in the loch. One of the sonar operators estimated the contacts larger than the sharks he had tracked off Florida, though obviously not of great white proportions.

    One contact was tracked for over 2 minutes so I wouldn’t say it was ‘fleeting’ by the way.

  99. DWA responds:

    Daniel:

    At the prompting of ceroill (whose post showed up in my email, but apparently not here yet), I perused the Wikipedia entry on Nessie.

    Not to contribute tons more to what may already be the longest thread I’ve seen on Cryptomundo (and here I thought the sasquatch was our flagship critter!). But my understanding of the sweeps that have been done of the loch – from the Wiki entry alone, mind you, “Nessie” will take you right there on a search – is that things were found, on each one, that were at the very least intriguing, and that none of them concluded with the researchers, or anyone reviewing the results, concluding that nothing of interest had been found. One sample sentence from one of the Rines hunts of the early ’70s: “Several of the photographs, despite their obviously murky quality [because the Loch is murky], did indeed seem to show an animal resembling a plesiosaur in various positions and lightings.”

    I don’t find anything I’ve read of individuals’ encounters with Nessie anything near as compelling as what I’ve read for the sasquatch. But then again, most observers are above the water, and Nessie – whatever it is – at least generally isn’t.

    So I guess here’s where I am. Anyone who thinks that nothing has been found indicating, at least, the possibility of a very significant species, as yet uncatalogued by science, living in Loch Ness, needs to tell me why the things those scans did locate aren’t at the least worthy of followup.

    Yes, the problems for a plesiosaur, or a warm-blooded animal, that rarely surfaces, living with what would be a limited food supply, remain. Sightings don’t seem consistent on any character, except maybe the neck. Maybe.

    But heck. Even if it’s just a fish, it sounds like it could be one COOL fish.

  100. AtomicMrEMonster responds:

    mystery_man:

    That is a great example of a flawed witness report, thank you for bringing that to my attention. These kinds of reports I feel are useful to show those that think witnesses NEVER make mistakes can in fact have flaws in their story. I never said that this doesn’t happen, but thank you all the same for posting it.

    I’m glad you liked the report and I can promise you that I didn’t think you were saying that people never make mistakes in estimation. I just figured that if I was going to bring up an argument about testing to see if their accuracy in judgement is correct, I should back it up. Which is something that we both agree on: things should be tested to make sure that people aren’t making errors and whatnot.

    I can understand why someone might dismiss a report if so many sightings have been investigated and shown to have (possible) mundane explanation, like Loch Ness. However, this doesn’t apply to all lakes since they haven’t been as heavily investigated and because of your excellent point about other lakes with similar conditions and wildlife not having monster reports. That doesn’t make this attitude right by any stretch of the imagination, but I can certainly understand how they could arrive at that conclusion. And by doing that, I could also use that knowledge to formulate an argument that sounds more reasonable to them (like your example about other lakes).

    I can also understand that for the otter reports in the post that started this topic, we’re only getting excerpts that declare them to be otters instead of getting enough text to judge for ourselves why they reached that conclusion. Unless we do some research on their explanations, we don’t know for sure whether or not they did any investigations (well, except for the footage that turned out to be a boat).

    Come to think of it, wouldn’t it be a hoot if Bigfoot’s existence got confirmed and it turned out to be smaller than the size people were reporting it as being? Maybe that’s why they’re so hard to find…

    Think about it, even if there is no monster per say, what the witnesses see could lead to shedding light on unusual wave patterns, currents, fish movements, weather effects, and other phenomena. These avenues won’t be found if inaccurate assessments are made to their claims, or hasty conclusions.

    Oh yes, definitely! Investigations of Loch Ness have given us lots of winderful data and discoveries about such things and that’s why I’m never one to write off investigations into such matters as wastes of money.

    This is an incredible discussion on these things, MrAtomicEmonster, and I think you are rational and really know your stuff. You have given me things to think about and I hope I have done the same for you. This is the type of civil, informative exchange I think we should be having more of in these threads.

    Thank you very much. I feel that exact same way about you, too (including giving me things to think about).

    I know this was intended for at DWA, but I figured that I’d chime in as well:

    It is also interesting how someone will put a good deal of confidence in an experienced outdoorsman’s ability to identify all of the known animals out there accurately, yet when they report something like a Bigfoot, suddenly their experise on forest animals is called into question.

    The thing is, we’re taking their word (or the word of whoever is reporting the person’s sighting) on their experience. Since I’m real big on investigating stuff, I’d look into those claims as well as the reported sighting. The sad thing is that there are people out there who exaggerate their abilities. You often see it on resumes, but it shows up in other places as well and people should be looking out for that when they investigate these things. If the person who made the sighting primarily dealt with deer hunting and if they’ve never seen a bear in person before, then the bear explanation becomes somewhat more likely. But if they have seen bears (like say, an outdoorsman who hunts bears), then we can give the Bigfoot theory more credit (and that’s assuming that we can prove they’re not lying about the encounter in the first place and that we can rule out someone in a Bigfoot suit).

  101. AtomicMrEMonster responds:

    Ceroill -

    This Wikipedia article has the explanation for those sonar contacts:

    “Using sonar, the team encountered a rare kind of underwater disturbance due to stored energy (such as from a wind) causing an imbalance between the loch’s warmer and colder layers. While reviewing printouts of the event the next day, they found what appeared to be three sonar contacts, each followed by a powerful wake.”

    The three sonar contacts thing is pretty damning in my eyes, as its ability to create wakes on a calm day (but to be fair, “standing waves” appear when water is calm as well. After all, that’s why they’re so noticeable).

    And you are correct about flat-out ridiculing something without investigating being like the initial reactions to reports of gorillas and platypuses. But as long as a body or skin isn’t produced, the ridicule won’t stop. DNA samples are good and all, but one can’t say that they belong to “animal x” unless there’s an “animal x” specimen to compare the DNA to.

  102. springheeledjack responds:

    Good lord, I knew I should have tried to get online sooner…sheesh…

    thanks Lyndon for bringing up the sonar hits…

    While I will agree with Daniel that the hits do not prove anything conclusively, the fact that there were hits means that the possibility is not negated.

    The whole size thing is also a tricky deal…everyone in their accounts fires out about how big something is…now I have spent a lot of personal time playing that game, first on land and then at water’s edges trying to guestimate size…and I am going to say that most people probably don’t have a real clue as to distance and length…how long is the Ford Pick-up truck as it drives along the street past your yard? You have maybe twenty thirty seconds to look it over, guestimate a length on standard vehicles…but are you accurate in your guess?

    MAybe maybe not…and I would guess in the case of a “monster” –and I hate that word when it comes to Nessie, Champ, BF, etc. people are going to tend to over estimate unless they have a real understanding of length, especially something that is out on the water and probably at a distance of at least a hundred yards.

    My point? sonar hits in Loch NEss do not have to be BIG for there to be something there. As has been said, Sonar is not an exact science, and to me the important thing is that they did come across “something.”

    DWA made a comment earlier about Loch Ness not being that big, and that is another topic which I do not think most people really understand…and one the debunkers are commonly using to attack lake monsters and BF for that matter.

    Loch ness is 24 miles long roughly, and a mile wide, give or take at various points. That’s 126,720 long by 5280 wide…or 669081600 square feet of surface area on the loch. That is a lot of area to cover for people, cameras, etc. And add to the fact that there are not roads and hotels and houses ringing around the loch–there is still plenty of wooded areas, and many areas where the loch is obscurred from the road by trees, etc.

    So to say that well if there was something 15-30′ long (and I am using a general average length here), and a population of them, that there would be many more sightiings if they are air breathers is not an accurate statement. Especially if they are like most other air breathers in the water…seals, otters, etc do not have to stick much of their total volume above the surface to breathe…neither do turtles, alliguggers or crocodiles…

    And since the loch is a mile across in places, the average person without some serious binoculars is going to be able to see very clearly out into the middle or other areas for than a few hundred yards. Add to that that you have to be looking in just the right place at the right time when one of the somethings decides to surface (because with the length and width of the loch when you add depth to the footage to give cubic feet, you are going to get a reallllly big number)…

    the total number of sightings over the years is very plausible…to me.

    For Daniel and the others…I do agree that I would put a lot more doubt into a tourist’s account of a sighting than a person who has lived around the loch all of their life.

    BUT, I said it before and I will say it again…go ahead and say you do not believe in the loch ness monster or Champ or any of the others…I grant you fair beliefand your due…but do not tell me it is not possible…because you have not done your homework.

  103. Daniel Loxton responds:

    Lyndon, SHJ, et al:

    You’re quite right that there is still a possibility, as I put it above, of encountering “something of genuine novelty” at Loch Ness — perhaps even a new species. Who knows? I’m reminded that a new species of giant leech was recently discovered in a suburban back yard in New Jersey.

    My point regarding the sonar surveys — especially Deepscan, the most careful survey — was only that they appear to contradict all eyewitness descriptions of a creature larger than… let’s say, maybe a five to a dozen feet long, or about the size of a sturgeon?

    Yes, that does leave room for possible dramatic new zoological discoveries at the Loch. (I don’t think there’s especially compelling reason to anticipate such discoveries, but that isn’t my argument at the moment.) Still, it seems disappointing to me. I suppose I’m a romantic in that respect.

    The Loch Ness sonar data also seems to me to underline the fallibility of cryptid eyewitnesses in general. We might expect the same sources of misinterpretation to occur at many or most lakes, and the same capacity for misinterpretation to occur wherever there are are human observers. The primary difference between the eyewitness databases for Nessie or Bigfoot might then be merely that Nessie descriptions can be tested against the sonar data, while we have no easy way to falsify Bigfoot descriptions.

  104. springheeledjack responds:

    Daniel, That kind of goes back to what we were talking about before in another post about witnesses and details and the overall use-ability of eye witness testimony.

    As you said, Daniel (somewhere up there) people mis-identify and are likely to mis-gauge lengths and distances (I think it was you), and I agree.

    That is what makes creating a database of sightings so difficult. Assuming there is some critter in the lochs and lakes that is a new species, there are all kinds of problems trying to pin down what it even might be without an actual specimen.

    A) you have witness testimony and a lot of it coming from tourists or possible people with no experience at said body of water–making for mis-identifications B) you have personal bias on details–people over estimating size or differing on type of skin, head, etc c) the ever present hoaxing.

    It does make it hard to decide what constitutes a valid sighting vs. one of the other categories, and to me that is good explanation as to why we have not progressed very far over the decades in finding out what is going on.

    As DWA pointed out, without going into the loch or lake, we are operating at a severe handicap—it’s like trying to learn something about woodpeckers, but only watching one tree and having to wait for a woodpecker to come to that particular tree and then be awake to study it when it does decide to make an appearance.

    However, Loch Ness is so dark and murky, it makes any kind of forays into the loch itself almost as bad as the proverbial needle in a haystack–unless some kind of sonar can be used in tandem with subs to maneuver around and actually follow up on sonar readings.

    It will take extensive money and man (and woman) power to pull off something like that, and with the whole Nessie thing being on the fringes anyway, I doubt that will happen soon…unless I win the lottery…

    Back to the Otter equation, I appreciate the argument, and I do believe that some of the sightings at all lakes and lochs–there are doubtless people who will catch a glimpse of something swimming and it could be a group of otters, cormorants, maybe even a sturgeon or snake.

    However, I believe that the cryptozoologists (seasoned and amateur) are going to take the time to look as long as they can, watching for known things to rule out the possible (otters, waves, logs, etc.) until they do come across something that defies all of those possibilities and then say, hey there is something more going on there.

    I think that has already happened, on multiple occasions, which is why people (myself included) keep looking at Loch Ness and Champlain and Okanagan.

  105. AtomicMrEMonster responds:

    DWA:

    AtMREM (close enough I’m trusting;

    That’s fine. You can also use AMM if you want; the “MrE” thing is there since I couldn’t fit “Mystery” into the box. I should also note that I’ve added some responses to other posts that you’ve done that weren’t directed at me.

    I would think that an unknown animal is no more – but no less -than equally likely as misidentification scenarios that stretch credulity. For example, it’s easier to stomach the possibility that the sasquatch exists than it is that everyone is actually seeing a bear. Or that memories of the sort that could never, in my opinion, fade from a normal person’s mind, have simply faded, and that eight-foot ape, clearly bipedal, with a disturbingly humanlike face, was….well I’ve never seen a bear I could mess up that badly; and I’ve seen lots of bears.

    Ah, but there are other possible explanations besides bears. One must also consider the possibility of people in suits, be they ghillie or ape/gorilla/Bigfoot/etc. Considering the nature of a ghillie suit’s design is to hide a person completely, it is less likely that a face would be seen. On the other hand, a face might be glimpsed if the suit was jarred in some manner, if part of the suit was opened to allow for cooling (or if it was a type that had an open face and required someone to wear “camo make-up”) or if the suit was modified (presumably for hoaxing purposes), then it could be possible. If encountered suddenly and the person in the suit wasn’t given a chance to explain before the person took off, a hunter in such a suit (hunters used to such suits would probably recognize a ghillie suit, though) could fit the bill for bigfoot, especially if they were tall. As noted before, shock could make a person seem larger, so someone around 6 feet tall could be mistaken for being 8 feet tall. On the other hand, a misidentified hunter would be more likely to come forward (unless they were hunting out of season, trespassing, or were hunting without a valid license).

    The size thing would also apply to people in apelike costumes. There’s also the possibility of someone using a tall suit similar to a “stalkaround” puppet (Instructions for building them can also be found online. Here’s one example). Why would someone be in the woods in apelike suits when there’s the very real possibility that they could get shot or because suits get hot? Some might be so dedicated to the hoax that they won’t care. This video seems to be an example of this, but I can’t say for sure since there’s no way for me to tell what the temperature really was on that day. A person also might not’ve thought things through or was too caught up in concentrating on other things to let themselves think of that. Here’s a hypothetical scenario:

    Let’s pretend someone decides to mess with some hikers by putting on a costume and run around in the woods. If they’re smart, they’re either going to build their own (They don’t have to be good at sewing, either. This guy made one out of a sweatsuit and hair extensions) or I’ll have bought the suit during an after-Halloween clearance sale months in advance (and if they bought it at one of those seasonal stores that closes up after October, there’s practically no way to trace ‘em).

    They’re thinking “hikers,” so they don’t factor in hunters. Or maybe they’ve read a lot of reports about hunters deciding not to shoot (especially if they’re afraid that they’ll get charged with murder). If the hoaxer is someone with a name like “Brewdog” from a local frat, he’s probably drunk/stone/whatever and not thinking about the possibility of getting shot (but then again, he might not be smart enough to pull of the “off-season buying” scenario I offered up). Anyway…

    It’s hot out, so they’ll plan on spooking a few people until it gets too hot and then they’ll call it a day. So they’re in the woods and then run into a hunter. Maybe they won’t see the hunter since said hunter is hiding. Maybe they do see the hunter and a stunned into speechlessness by the possibility that they could get shot (Lots of people seem to think they’re invincible until they’re confronted with proof that they’re not). They see the hunter lower the gun and they get the hell out of there.

    Sometime later, they hear about the hunter reporting the sighting. They could go forward, but this could mean that they’d risk encurring the wrath of someone with a gun. Obviously, they’re going to be silent.

    There’s also the chance that some people are out in the woods shooting footage for a Bigfoot-related project-be it for a movie, a demo reel to get backers interested in a movie, or for some internet video or class project-and they’re doing it without a permit to save money. They figure that nobody’s going to know that they’re doing it and they’ve directed their costumed actor to go behind some bushes and come out when given the signal. So they do so and they see a hunter. Same “stunned speechless” business as what I described in the previous example happens (Although it’d be smarter to say “I’m an actor for a movie”). They leave, the hunter leaves, and the costumed person goes back to the crew to tell them what happened. Since they don’t want to get in trouble for filming without a permit, they don’t come forward when the guy makes his report (I’d also imagine that they’d try to remove all signs that they were out there, but investigators considering the possibility of a movie might be able to find clues that might go ignored in a search for Bigfoot). If the hunter never sees their movie (and that’s assuming it gets finished and/or released in the first place), they’re never going to know they really saw someone in a costume. If the hunter does figure it out, they might think that they have no proof or not be able to find the site again to show that the crew was there. If they did, well the film crew would get in trouble and we’d all know about the story.

    Obviously someone is going to tell you that what they saw was too realistic to be a suit, because if they had recognized it as a suit, they wouldn’t have said anything! And if they believe they saw Bigfoot, they mgiht not want to accept that they got tricked by a costume. In their mind, they would have noticed if it was a suit. As time goes on, they’ll start to get more and more resistant to the idea that they were mistaken. People fear ridicule. Even though there are people who’ll make fun of someone who claims to see Bigfoot, there’s also a bunch of people who’ll believe them and side with/comfort them. If it turns out you made a mistake, everyone will know that you did and fewer people will side with you since you actually did make a mistake. This can lead to people clinging to the idea that they did see something unexplained, especially if they’ve had a lot of time to let their belief sink in. They might’ve only mad ethe claim because they were so positive that they saw something and that people would believe them (like someone known for never lying, is experienced with animals, etc). I can easily imagine a more defensive person who reported a Bigfoot encounter claim that they saw it blink. That’s what’s so maddening about eyewitness reports, it’s hard to tell who’ll do something like that.

    A good example of similar behavior is what happened in Massachusetts during /after that “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” bomb scare, details on which can be read here. Even after the devices mistaken for bombs (which was not helped by reports describing-and not showing- the boxes as being consistent for materials in a bomb, only without the explosives (meaning the metal box, lights, a battery, and electrical wiring. Hell, that description could also apply to a sealed cardboard tube and some string!), the two men who set up the boxes in Boston were charged with “…placing a hoax device to incite panic,” despite the charges happening after the intent of the devices was revealed (the charges were later dropped after the two guys did some community service and apologized). They simply did not want to admit that they had made a mistake and acted like someone had purposely set out to fool them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad someone checked to make sure whether or not they were actually dealing with a bomb when the initial reports came in, but such behavior after the fact just strikes me as being childish (But to be fair, the guys’ infamous “hair press conference” and not going to the police when they had the chance was pretty damn dumb as well). I should not that in other cities, the boxes (despite their being out for the same amount fo time as they were in Boston-about two weeks) weren’t mistaken for bombs since people either flat-out ignored them or recognized them and didn’t give them a second thought.

    I say all this not to say that Bigfoot doesn’t exist (I honestly don’t know if it does or doesn’t), but to offer some possibilities that people can use to weed out bad data from all of the currently data. Even if one believes that Bigfoot doesn’t exist, shouldn’t we investigated to get to the bottom of what started this? Yes!

    Can this explain all sightings? Of course not; it’d be insane to think that. I promise you that I’m not saying that all Bigfoot sightings are people in some kind of suit, I’m just saying that one should try to rule out the possibility that a person in a suit was involved (assuming that the person who made the report isn’t lying). There’s plenty of factors in those examples that can be ruled out of sightings due to timing, location, etc. All I’m saying is that those are possible for some sightings (especially sightings that appeared after Bigfoot’s popularity exploded). By eliminating cases involving those, more credibility can be given to ones that can’t be explained as being misidentifications, etc. Oh, I’d also imagine that such suits wouldn’t be available in places where Yeti sightings occur.

    I also want to note that people can get details mixed up in their memories. A good way to test this for yourself is to try thinking of a line or a scene from a movie you (or a friend, family member, etc.) haven’t watched in awhile and then rewatching it to see if your memory stacks up. There are lots of people who swear that Humphrey Bogart’s character in Casablanca says “Play it again, Sam.” They’re mistaken. It’s probably because the idea of him saying it is so widespread that some people, without knowing it, subconsciously adjust their memories to match this opinion. Some people ( Even people who’ll tell you that “Frankenstein” is the name of the doctor and not monster) will tell you that Dr. Frankenstein often works with a hunchback called “Igor”. But if you go back and watch the movie, the character’s name is Fritz. There’s a character in another movie in Universal’s Frankenstein series (The Ghost of Frankenstein) called “Ygor” and there were a song (songs? It’s been awhile since I read this) involving a character called “Igor” that seem to have sparked the confusion. There was a discussion on the Classic Horror Film Board brought up some research on the matter, but I don’t have a link to the thread handy. They should be able to provide it on request, though.

    Another, similar, example is that backwards masking stuff. If someone plays a sound backwards and tells you what it supposedly says, you’re more likely to hear what they said. So if someone thinks that they saw Bigfoot and hears that Bigfoot has certain features, it is possible that they could adjust their memories on the matter to be more “correct.” This is why I personally am leery of using the fact that people are reporting similar features, based solely on the reports. If the reports can be looked into and misidentifications and pranks (assuming that the person isn’t lying) can be ruled out, then we’re in business. I should point out that the possibilities that I raised can’t account for the facial details given in the first sighting to use them. That definitely warrants a look.

    Well, Ben does strike me that way. (hee hee har har, I mean.) I’m sure you’ll notice Daniel Loxton doesn’t. I don’t suffer foolish behavior (notice I didn’t say “fools”) gladly; and I can’t apologize for that. Ben’s had explanations responses and clear cogent insights bounce off his finish without response or comment – other than cherrypicking and name-calling – time past counting. Sometimes you just want to swat him for the pleasure of it. Yes, I’m glad I’m human. Garbage in, garbage back. When someone can’t be reasoned with, why bother?

    Hhmm…you do make some very interesting points there. I don’t necessarily agree with all of them, but they’re interesting. You do have a point about your not having a problem with Mr. Loxton and you’ve (in my eyes) become more civil with me, so maybe you’re not entirely off-base about your feelings towards Mr. Radford. Still can’t agree about the behavior, though.

    It’s a shame he can’t comment on the matter himself, though. Oh well…

    I can’t really be worried about what people think about crypto.

    You might to reconsider that position. I won’t deny that people with an interest in cryptozoology can get ridiculed, but isn’t a lot of that from hardcore skeptics and people who don’t habe a full understanding of it? Getting support requires winning over people who are “on the fence, “just like in an election. You’ve already got the support of the believers and you’ll never get the support of the hardcore skeptics, but it’s possible to go either way with the undecided.

    I didn’t declare anything anything. I simply said that at this juncture, Nessie could be, well, anything, and science appears unable to pronounce with confidence what it is.

    Ah, okay. I thought you meant declared in the “said” sense. My mistake. Thanks for clearing that up.

    But if the evidence for any lake monster contains as many consistent sightings of what appears to be the same animal as that for the sasquatch seems to – and with Nessie I very much doubt that but am open to being shown otherwise – then we need to stop talking otters and get into that loch to do a look that will either say the naysayers are in all likelihood right, or shut them up.

    When you look at all the possible misidentifications (Although I have some problems with the book, I still recommend reading Steuart Campbell’s The Loch Ness Monster: The Evidence as it’s a great source of information on the various types of sightings and investigations at Loch Ness. Man, I should be getting paid for this…) and the scans that couldn’t find anything, it’s looking like the first option is the most likely (especially when you factor in that sonar contact thing I brought up when you think about the ones that did yield of mysterious sonar contacts). The 1962 Cambridge University-sponsored sonar sweep was set up so that the sonar-equipped boats would sweep the loch from “end-to-end” so that Nessie would either be forced to an end of the lake or get caught in the sonar “net.” The four boats with sonar equipment made “…six sweeps by both day and night.” In all fairness, one “echo” was detected during on of the six sweeps just before a “pole-like object was sighted in the same area” (83-84). Its absence during the other sweeps in puzzling and would lead some to think that it was a tree trunk or log from the bottom propelled upward by gases produced by decomposition, which would explain why it appeared once, but not the other times: Because the gas had been released and the log sank to the bottom and was undetected. When a search was done without the motors on, two echoes were detected (84). However, he cites 183 large groups of salmon (who presumably had scattered due to the noise of the boats and thus went undetected as anything unusual) could be the culprit. He seems to be citing (his citation system is a bit confusing) FW Holiday’s The Great Orm of Loch Ness page 201 and note 13. I also can’t help but wonder if those sonar contacts I had mentioned earlier could also explain those.

    I’m admittedly at a loss as how one could test to see what the sonar contacts detected in the 1962 search could actually be if one was not satisfied by those explanations, but I’m no sonar technician.

    The BBC’s 2003 investigation, another full scan of the loch, found nothing and I’d imagine would satisfy requests for a scan using modern equipment.

    However, this wouldn’t apply to other lakes with monsters reported to be living in them. Even if the investigations into the other lakes don’t find a monster, they might find something else of interest. The large eels rumored to be in Crescent Lake could be the source of many Cressie sightings and show how big freshwater eels can get. And technically a fishing derby could be counted as an investigation looking to see if large eels are in the lake…

    Oh, and there is a monster in Loch Ness, though. It’s a sunken prop from The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, but a fake monster is still a monster of sorts.

    One sample sentence from one of the Rines hunts of the early ’70s: “Several of the photographs, despite their obviously murky quality [because the Loch is murky], did indeed seem to show an animal resembling a plesiosaur in various positions and lightings.”…So I guess here’s where I am. Anyone who thinks that nothing has been found indicating, at least, the possibility of a very significant species, as yet uncatalogued by science, living in Loch Ness, needs to tell me why the things those scans did locate aren’t at the least worthy of followup.

    There actually was a followup. Campbell’s book discusses this on pages 72-74, but I’ll provide some highlights for those without a copy:

    In 1976, it was discovered that the depth of the area the camera array was located in was 18 meters and not 25 meters as was originally believed. It was also discovered that the original bouy line (the cameras arrays were suspended in mid water) had enough slack so that the buoy could move over a circle of “…radius 11m” and that with an “onshore wind” could easily move the backup array into shallower waters, enough so that it could touch and possibly roll along the lake bottom (72-73).

    On the night the pictures of the plesiosaur-like neck and body and the so-called (as noted on Wikipedia) “gargoyle head” were taken, it was found that “…the [main] array became covered with silt and produced no results (except hat the sonar recorded some targets, which may have been the backup array!) However, pictures were taken by the backup system” (70). We know that Operation Deepscan found the tree trunk responsible for the “gargoyle head” and Campbell’s book notes on page 74 that it was was recovered. We also know that the arrays had the ability to touch/kick up debris on the lake bottom. Considering the possibility that the “plesiosaur-like” picture could also show a tree trunk and was taken near what was proved to be a tree stumped, factored in with the very likely event of silt getting kicked up (after all, the main array got covered in the stuff), it is not unlikely to assume that the picture shows a silt-obscured tree trunk. The group behind the original Rines investigation later tried using securely anchored cameras. They got “negative results”(74). If by that they mean they found “nothing, including the tree trunk” instead of “nothing of importance,” I would recommend perhaps one could calculate where a tree of the estimated size of the thing in the picture (adjusting for decomposition, if possible) could be carried by currents and then look in that general area for its remains.

    As for the fin picture, the original picture looked like this. The enhancement by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratories looked like this. After that was sent to Academy of Applied Science, the flipper pictures we’re all familar with were created from those. The Wikipedia notes on the subject (with citations) note that it is possible that picture does show a flipper, but that its size was increased during the enhancements by AAS. The Musuem of Hoaxes claims that “Modern image-enhancement software has not been able to conjure anything resembling a flipper from the original image.” They don’t give a source for this, but I’m interested to hear more about it. Would the negative be need or could someone (preferably one who doesn’t know what they’d be enhancing) could try to enhance the picture I provided to see what they get? Either way, that doesn’t say a whole lot to me. There’s a strong possibility that this is a picture of a small flipper (like that of a fish) or that it’s just a picture of silt or a bubble.

  106. AtomicMrEMonster responds:

    springheeledjack said:

    Loch ness is 24 miles long roughly, and a mile wide, give or take at various points. That’s 126,720 long by 5280 wide…or 669081600 square feet of surface area on the loch. That is a lot of area to cover for people, cameras, etc. And add to the fact that there are not roads and hotels and houses ringing around the loch–there is still plenty of wooded areas, and many areas where the loch is obscurred from the road by trees, etc.

    There’s also the fact that, due to the loch’s large size, there are points on the water where a boat can only be seen as a blurry object in the water and can seem to disappear, depending on where one is positioned. The crazy thing is that even if seen with binoculars, boats in those areas look like blurry, unexplained objects.

  107. mystery_man responds:

    I also think that when one prunes away other likely possibilities and explanations, we are still left with a lot of reports that defy rational mundane causes. I get the impression that most here on this thread agree on this point. It is those reports that offer the most potential for the discovery of some new zoological phenomena and no matter how unlikely I personally feel that possibility to be, I am scientific enough to at least be willing to consider it. It is on the surface biologically feasible under certain conditions, so I will not rule it out. Unfortunately, there are always hoaxes that could cause some of the truly head scratching reports too, and this should be given consideration as well. I find it to be wise to look at known possibilities first in these cases because let’s face it, nobody knows if there is a large, unknown animal there or not and as far as Occam’s razor, I personally don’t think the possibility of one being there is always the most likely or simplest solution.

    If there ever ARE large, undiscovered animals found to be in these lakes, I think you will find that there will be more of a tendency to accept witness testimony because it will no longer be an IF and so the sightings will be able to be linked to a concrete creature. I think it is ironic because if there really is a monster in a given lake and it is ever proven to exist, we will hear of someone might say they saw an otter when what they really saw was the monster! :) .

    For now, however, there has to be consideration given to the mundane possibilities and the testing of hypotheses. I think if proper investigation is done, and sightings given serious consideration, mundane possibilities could very well be ruled out, making the hypothesis of a large unknown creature become apparent and that route of inquiry can be made. This is a scientific approach and I feel the scientific method is of immense importance with cryptids. I feel if there really are cryptids in the lakes, there is no need to worry for proponents because an unbiased approach will uncover them if the time and money is there. Unbiased is the key word here, so it will be equally important not to try and shove a report that doesn’t quite fit a rational explanation into a mundane theory.

    Daniel Loxton, SHJ, AtomicMrEmonster, Ceroill, and others who have been contributing to this discussion, thank you. I think you all have good ideas with merit and these conversations are a good way to learn about different ways of thinking as well as gain new ideas and information. I’m having a great time reading all of your posts!

  108. mystery_man responds:

    I forgot to mention DWA too!

  109. Loren Coleman responds:

    Let me try this again.

    I do not wish to end this thread. My earlier comment was misread. This is not a message board, so when people re-post extended repeats of comments, without quotation marks, the long postings are hard to follow. It is more for comments, but I am not going to get in the way of passion, that’s for sure.

    Comments that are found to go on and on about, for example, Bigfoot (when the topics being discussed are lake monsters and otters) may be edited for content.

    Thank you for your cooperation.

  110. jerrywayne responds:

    I noticed some folks seem to think Nickell argued that the Holmes film represented otters moving in line. All he really suggested is that if Holmes film had orginated at a non-monster tradition lake, most people would have immediately recognized the image as a beaver or otter.

  111. jerrywayne responds:

    I remember the Ogopogo film on UNSOLVED MYSTERIES. The film was a close shot, unambiguously, of a beaver. Yet the photographer steadfastly claimed he had filmed a serpentine like creature around 15 ft. long. The program even included comments from Arlene Gaal, an Ogopogo researcher, who suggested the film represented a young Ogopogo! But it was a beaver! This will to believe is what troubles me about the school of cryptozoo.

  112. springheeledjack responds:

    I like Mystery_Man’s piont about people thinking that a sighting is actually otters when it may be the critter…

    That is excellent–and is every bit as valid as those who see otters and think they are lake critters…

    In our efforts to be skeptical and not to be taken in by hoaxers, we may in fact ignore good (and by good I qualify as real footage or sighting of the critter in question) evidence because of some odd detail or other that suggests it may be something mundane.

    Very good point MM

  113. springheeledjack responds:

    AtomicMrEMonster, and your point is well taken, again the word of someone who comes for a visit to see Nessie and they see something large out far enough may be content to see a boat as a monster and leave it at that, without looking harder to see what they are really looking at.

    My point, more to the point, was that Loch Ness and others like it are not small bodies of water and that there is plenty of room to

    1) support a large breeding population and

    2) that debunkers often make trite comments like, “if it was an air breathing creature like an otter, bird, reptile, etc., we would see it all of the time” which is just not the case.

    I was off on a tangent. :) Maybe I will change my handle to Spring Heeled Tangent.

  114. springheeledjack responds:

    And thanks to all of you for your input…am having a great time at this site talking about these things with like minded and non-like minded people who engage in this stuff!

  115. DWA responds:

    jerrywayne says: “This will to believe is what troubles me about the school of cryptozoo.”

    And I’m sure that what troubles cryptos is their field being tarred by people who think its fringe elements are typical.

    Crypto is not about a will to anything but to examine evidence, candidly and forthrightly. If you’re about belief, pick a religion. If you want to will beavers into lake monsters, that’s probably as good a religion as any.

  116. DWA responds:

    Atomic (that’s easier and who’s gonna mistake it? OK, it’s “Atomic with the loooong posts”): :-D

    Everything you talk about could be happening in SOME sightings, both in and outside databases. But I’ve read too many – not for Nessie mind, brief sas plug here, sorry, Loren :-) – that leave too little doubt about what the witness saw. And you do note that you’re not blanketing all sightings with that brush. Fair ’nuff.

    As to behavior: everybody’s gotta get it out of his system somehow. Daniel, mystery_man and things-in-the-woods are getting it out somewhere other than here, is all I can figure. :-D But I sure won’t argue that fights never really solved anything. (No WW II didn’t. Or I for that matter. Anybody wanna make bets on what III will solve…? Other than the planetary problem of too many of US….?)

    I think that all the sheer verbiage on this thread is saying one thing to me: maybe another thorough scan of the Loch is in order. Because the previous ones didn’t seem to end the discussion, and not just among True Believers.

  117. jerrywayne responds:

    Responding to DWA:

    I think that dismissing mundane explanations out of hand in favor of the most romanticized notions possible (lake phenomena as prehistoric whales, for instance) opens cyrptozoology up to the charges of psuedoscience, of a less than rational agenda, and of being more concerned with “monster hunting” than finding unknown animals.

  118. springheeledjack responds:

    Woo-hoo…back in again!

    Loren, sorry did misread your intent…I do love these long banters…I think a lot of good comes out of them once the initial thrashings get their say…:)(and some times initial thrashings are necessary to turn a corner and start talking about real issues)–thanks for the restatement.

    jerrywayne…the “Romanticized notions” are carried on many times by the MEDIA (which I am becoming more hostile toward with every passing day, and not just on the crypto-front), and the outer fringes of crypto.

    I would love nothing better than to see an elasmosaur (or dare I say it…do, do…a kronosaur) slicing through the waves…BUT…as an amateur crypto, and someone who has studied this stuff for decades I know that elasmosaurs and kronosaurs do not fit the overall patterns of what is being seen either…I am not arguing the long neck, but there are toooo many problems with elasmosaurs and plesiosaurs to make them viable as a real candidate.

    However, whenever you mention Loch Ness, the average person on the street who knows very little about Ness other than what they have heard in the media is going to think plesiosaur (most people probably have only heard elasmosaur in passing…sheesh), and every time some water critter rears its head in some lake, the media immediately latches onto the plesiosaur motif like a leech.

    As for the mundane explanations–yes they are there, BUT mundane does not always cover the territory either. The whole thing on lines of otters swimming is case in point. I can go for the otter-line-swimming theory in a few cases, but as far as I know, there are not large populations of otters in Ness (and someone here correct me if I am wrong, but otters just do not get mentioned prominently in the Inverness bestiary) such as this would be a common mis-dentification. And otters certainly would only be hypothetically a candidate in a small number of accounts.

    My (and I would guess other cryptos around here) biggest gripe about the mundane explanations is that debunkers will point to a specific example where a mundane explanation is likely and then extrapolate that to the body of accounts as a whole. It is that sort of faulty logical argumentation that is pseudo-science.

    Sorry, not meaning to tirade on you, jerrywayne, just the argument.

    Finally, Loren what is the record for most posts on a specific topic…are we closing in??? (No I am not intending you to count postings on the thousands of articles here, just thinking we have a goal to shoot for:):):)

  119. DWA responds:

    jerrywayne:

    Anyone who would reject a truly mundane explanation “out of hand” is not a crypto, but a True Believer. (Which rhymes with “screw loose.” Trust me.)

    I’ve said it before and will say it again: conga-dancing lines of otters migrating in from the sea to fool tourists, and bears running on their hind legs. and eight-foot-tall vagrants running 40 mph, and people hallucinating over and over and over again, different people all over a continent, hallucinating the exact same thing, are not “mundane explanations.” They’re, well, scwewy applications of mundane phenomena.

    Could mundane explanations account for some sightings? Yes. A majority of them? You’re pulling my leg. ALL of them? Please.

    Isn’t it easier to just see if what people say they are seeing is there? (Yes.)

    What cryptos – and true skeptics – don’t like to see is scwewy applications of mundane phenomena used as a tapdance around real inquiry.

    That’s all.

  120. springheeledjack responds:

    And I’m with DWA on his posting up there too (I know, shocker, right?)…this is a place to voice ideas and passions.

    In fact this is one of the few places where I have encountered other people who not only like talking about this stuff, but actually know quite a lot about the things I have been studying by myself since I was a kid.

    I get excited coming here every other day or so to hash out these topics and talk intelligently with other like minded people about cryptozoology (my wife humors me, but she can only take it for so long…).

    And I think, like DWA, I have often gotten frustrated with the debunkers and scoftics because many of them claim to be taking a “scientific” approach when they are only doing the same thing as the pro-dinosaur / plesiosaur crowd and skewing information to fit their own diabolical ends…
    (oh and by the way, I am not discounting 100% the possibility of living plesiosaurs or kronosaurs out there…just saying that it is a long shot at best…at least not the way they were in the dinosaur days).

    So, when I meet up with those kinds of people, I get fired up and go after their faulty logic. Like I always say, speak your opinion, but don’t speak it like it is the TRUTH. One theory is as good as another until we capture a critter, drain the loch, or get a bonafide account with 100 witnesses at close quarters for the better part of an hour with photos and film.

    NEXT.

  121. springheeledjack responds:

    Yeah, I was going to make a comment about some of the mundane explanations being even crazier than an actual undiscovered critter swimming our lakes and oceans…but DWA, you’ve got me covered!

  122. AtomicMrEMonster responds:

    DWA:

    Yep, the long post was me. Here’s my edited-down post:

    Although I don’t fully agree with you, I do find your points interesting. Especially the possibility that my opinion of you seems to have been influenced by your opinion of Mr. Radford. Also, I had thought that you meant “declared” in the “said” sense. Thanks for clearing that up.

    They did do a follow up on the “Loch Ness pictures” expedition. In 1976, a member of the original expeditons discovered that the line they secured the camera arrays to actually allowed the arrays to move around and touch/roll along the lake bottom. When they had taken the “head” and “neck” pictures, the main array was found to be covered in silt, implying that it did the rolling on the bottom or that the backup unit kicked up some silt.

    Operation Deepscan later found and recovered a tree stump in the area that was in the “head” picture. It’s not hard to imagine that the “neck” picture taken nearby was of the rest of the tree. A later picture-taking expedition used anchored camera and had no luck getting any pictures of Nessie. But, as you correctly noted, every expedition there finds something interesting, so doing another wouldn’t be a complete “waste.”

    As for the fin picture, the original looked like this. The enhancement by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratories looked like this. Wikipedia also notes that size estimation errors were made and that the fins-if they really are fins-are much smaller than originally thought.

    The 1962 Cambridge University expedition did a six-sweep scan designed so that it’d be impossible for Nessie to go anywhere in the lake and not be detected. They only got one echo before a “pole-like object” was seen in the area (which could point to a gas-lifted log) and two echoes during one of the night sweeps (which could be shoals of fish or that sonar thing I mentioned earlier). The BBC’s 2003 investigation, another full scan of the loch, found nothing and I’d imagine would satisfy requests for a scan using modern equipment.

  123. AtomicMrEMonster responds:

    springheeledjack:

    There are otters in Loch Ness and if what I’ve been reading is correct, those suckers can get big, length-wise (I talked about this in one of my more long-winded posts, so it’d be easy to miss). I’d imagine that a good chunk of the length is in the tail, but still…

    I’d also like to thank everyone for the great conversation!

  124. mystery_man responds:

    Wow, this thread is still going. Incredible. I’ve said pretty much all I can say about it so far but I am glad to see that everyone here agrees on one crucial thing, and that is that not all eyewitness reports can be explained away so easily. No matter how you cut it, there are some that are just going to defy rational explanations or possible mundane causes. I don’t see anyone here disputing that these kinds of reports are there and that they deserve closer scrutiny. What do these reports represent? Do they show highly misidentified phenomena, or a hoax, or some sort of bizarre natural phenomena? Or maybe, just maybe, they signify something we haven’t seen yet. We may sometimes disagree on the possible causes of these accounts, but undeniably there are truly head scratching reports.

    I am happy to see that even those engaging in this conversation from the more skeptical side are at least willing to entertain the thought that perhaps something is out there that cannot be explained away and those on the proponent side are not denying that witnesses can be wrong. I have seen a lot of plausible proponent arguments here as well as solid skeptical arguments and I can happily say that no rampant debunking has been going on on this thread as far as I can see. Proponents have admitted to the possibility of mundane explanations in some cases and those that support skeptical, mundane arguments admit that some reports defy these. It seems to me that there is a sort of common ground here and that is a good starting point for both camps to work together towards intelligently solving this mystery. This is good, wholesome, useful discussion.

    I have made a pretty big transition from a hard core scoftic to an open minded skeptic in recent years. I know all of the debunking theories, and yet, well, I just cannot agree on all of them any more than I can agree on all proponent arguments. I was trained and studied under pretty traditional ideas of biology and zoology and yet, I don’t see anything in this field that defies anything that I’ve learned despite the disdain that some of my colleagues could possibly show. I feel there are some viable scientific questions that need to be answered with these cryptids and I was not always getting the answers with strictly skeptical arguments, so I have softened my stance with cryptids considerably. I am no longer trying to be right or disprove anything, rather I want real investigation into what is there, whether that means these lake monsters exist or not. A good hypothesis is a good hypothesis and I will recognize any as such, reasonably free from any desire for it to be right or wrong. I feel this approach and finding our common ground may lead some of the answers we are looking for. Let’s look at what is there, not what we may want to be there or not want to be there.

    This thread has been a great chance for different ideas to get out and I love this site for these sorts of discussions. Fascinating stuff.

  125. springheeledjack responds:

    AtomicMREM (sorry, I like the word “atomic” so that’s my short for ya…)

    That is good to know about the otters…I have heard the otter theory before, but never had any hard data on numbers, sizes, etc. And I do believe that it is possible to mistake such things…it all does go back to the credibility of the witness to an extent and how hard the witness is trying to “see” what is really there…somebody who wants to see Nessie really bad, and travels there may very easily be pulled in by otters, odd waves, shadows, etc.

    I just do not believe that all of the reports fall into that category.

    Thanks again, one and all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  126. JMonkey responds:

    All this over otters? Well they are pesky little creatures, though cute and somehwat cuddly looking. But seriously guys, we know that the lake monsters are actually the guard dogs of aliens who have secret bases located in the bottoms of these lakes, and often in deep spots of the ocean. I cannot believe that Benjamin and Nickells never figured this out. It is just common sense.

    A public service message brought to you by your paranormal friends at Area 51.



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