Brooding About Bownessie

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 20th, 2011

The new image of a four-humped beastie spotted in Lake Windermere is being called “Bownessie.”

Of course, everyone but my kindergarten teacher has sent me emails with a link to look at this image. I appreciate the attention the creature picture is getting and I have not ignored it. Or your emails.

Indeed, here at the International Cryptozoology Museum, I am deeply brooding about Bownessie. What is it, what does it mean – on many levels -, and what happens next?


Hump-backed: The image of Bownessie taken by IT worker Tom Pickles on Lake Windermere while kayaking.

Of course, some of the thinking goes in the direction of what exactly are we seeing.

But then various lines of analysis must go to who is giving us this data. What do we know about the two people ~ Tom Pickles and Sarah Harrington ~ who are responsible for the imagery?


Remember, the evidence brought forth is only as trustworthy as the people bringing it to us. What do we know about Tom Pickles and Sarah Harrington who saw the creature during their company’s team building exercise? Of course, I am not saying they are not to be taken seriously.  But it is up to the UK investigators to do some background checks, as should be done in any thorough inquiry.

What we do understand is that other images of Lake Monsters like Bownessie have come before. With varying results.

Some are unexplained. Some are fakes and hoaxes. Some are garbage (plastic trash) bags. Some are otters. Some are humans. Some are other known animals. How does this new image of Bownessie enlighten us about lake cryptids? I am pondering such thoughts.

Some Lake Monster photos certainly do stimulate speculation. Are they unexplainables? Is the Bownessie photo to join them?

A fake Ogopogo.

Caddy? Moose? What?

The Loch Ness Monster photo by O’Connor in 1960 is blamed on a large plastic bag today. Others have been linked to similar mundane fakery.

Recognize this? It is the posterior of a human female swimming.


Tony Markle Otter Photo

Sometimes objects in lakes are otters. Click on this Tony Markle photograph for a larger view of the accompanying article and image.

Don Getty River Otters Photo

Photo is by Don Getty of river otters in the Grand Tetons. Used with full permission of Mr. Getty.



The two photographs of Nahuelito from Argentina, allegedly taken on
April 15, 2006
, above. Some feel they are probable hoaxes.

A frame from the E. Olsen Lake Champlain video. What does it show?

So, what are you thinking about this new Bownessie photo and this new wave of brooding about lake monster imagery?


Share your thoughts, please.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. 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. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

8 Responses to “Brooding About Bownessie”

  1. springheeledjack responds:

    Now we’re talking…

    Okay, first rule–rule out the obvious and get as many detailed questions answered as possible (and let’s ask ’em twice or more so we get the same responses each time).

    A witness SHOULD be able to give a rough time of day, place (at least an area), details on what they saw, where they were at, and so on. The more details you get, the better idea you get of what they think they saw. AND, you start getting a feel for the witness…are they confident about what they saw, conviction of their sighting, etc. Also you get background on the witness from them–how much time have they spent near this body of water? How familiar are they with the animal life there? Do they have actual knowledge that pertains to the sighting or could they be a person who’d see a floating log and think it’s a critter? You get the idea.

    To me, more important is the time amount of the sighting (are we talking 10 seconds or 3 minutes?), and movement (sitting still in the water or actually moving). Why? If they only saw something for span of a few seconds, that’s not enough time to make a sound judgment, in my opinion (unless they saw it on shore and bound for the water…and even then…). If they were able to watch something for a good span of time, then the witness is going to get more, solid details and have a better idea of size and what they were actually watching. If you see part of a deer or moose crossing a lake, and if you watch the thing long enough, it’s going to keep its head above water and come to land.

    Loren’s right. You can’t take anything at face value, and doing background checks into witnesses these days needs to be a fundamental practice. Even then, who knows. I’ve seen and read enough of the information and evidence on lake and ocean cryptids to decide they’re living breathing creatures, but personally, I’m also a practical joker…anybody who knows me will tell you so. IF I ever come up with any kind of sighting or photo evidence, I’m not sure I’d ever be taken completely seriously just because of that fact alone, and the debunkers would have a heyday.

    For me, I try to take in the totality of the sighting: the witness testimony, their validity, their motives, the photo evidence (if any), the sighting details, the history of the area, the background of the people, etc. No one piece of the incident has more weight than any other, and any aspect of the sighting can be a reason to rule it out. And applying that to every sighting is how I make my own determination of what constitutes a legitimate sighting and everything else.

    In this particular case, the photo’s interesting, but like most photos, it’s vague at best. AND that’s a standard problem with the water cryptids. Usually, you only get a partial look at the creature because you almost never get to see the entire creature–hence the water. And if there’s any distance involved, you can get shadows, waves, etc that can distort a sighting, which just makes discerning a photo like this all the more difficult to say what it actually is.

    Was the thing in the photo moving with any speed? I know they gave a size estimate, but again distortion, and does Sarah have any real experience in gauging the size of something in the water? The “humps” could be anything from humps to a back fin…to a log, a collection of floating bags, some half submerged junk, and so on.

    I don’t think we’re apt to get a single photo that can put the question to rest–there’s too many variables and most often too few details in photos to say anything without a doubt.

    However, the bottom line, as with all cryptid sightings, is be skeptical and rule everything else out. If you’ve got anything left over, then you’ve got something to go on and add to your case file. And that’s why this business is often disappointing and tedious…but it’s that 5% leftover that makes it all worthwhile too.

  2. Morgoth responds:

    That is a pretty good picture of a giant eel, side winding its way across the lake.

    Similar to Gordon Holmes on Loch Ness.

    Maybe 10 or 15 feet long.

  3. MattBille responds:

    Interestingly, the late Philip Klass, the UFO skeptic, saw the witness-reliability problem the other way: he felt UFO proponents put too much emphasis on the witness’ reputations for reliability, honesty, etc., when the focus should have been on the details of the UFO report.

  4. Loren Coleman responds:

    Matt, here again, I feel it is apples and oranges to compare methodological techniques between cryptozoology investigations with what Klass said of those for ufological sightings. The majority of ufo examinations are of a phenomenon based almost entirely on eyewitness accounts about flying craft in the skies that are not even established as a reality. Cryptozoology looks at tangible evidence including fecal samples, footprints, body parts, sound recordings and visual imagery of possible animals (and we know animals do exist and new species are discovered weekly).

  5. norman-uk responds:

    Yes but UFO’s do have correspondences to the physical evidence of cryptozoology, such as a radar trace and various bits and pieces of material also historical and cultural evidence not quite Gilmagesh but near enough and probably more visual imagery. There are loads of witnesses, as UFO’s are more accessible globally. There is even the equivalent of UFO waste! I am sure Stanton Friedman would have a good list of physical evidence!

    In addition we are familiar with the reality of space ships and every day becoming more aware of the probability of other kinds of live forms either out there or somewhat closer!

    I don’t doubt cryptozoological evidence is easier to accept or should be as it is not that much different to ordinary experience in general. I find it hard to keep more than a monitoring interest in UFO’s as usually one sees some lights in the sky and there is a bit of exitement thereafter doesnt seem to be much progress whereas with Sasquatch say, you can almost smell him.

    In both cases eyewitness reports are a valuable resource but somehow for me sasquatch is more special.

  6. Beachbums responds:

    You wanted to know more about Tom ?

    Best way to raise £10k is fake a photo. 🙂

    Graduates’ Profiles

    Tom Pickles Discipline ASPIRE

    What is the best part about your graduate scheme?

    The best thing about the graduate scheme is that it promotes the Capgemini value ‘fun’. Besides the social aspect of being around graduates in the same boat as you there are loads of fun team building activities I have been able to get involved in. This includes a week in the Lake District, a day at Go-Ape and a fund raising activity where as a group we are to raise £10k for charity. Part of the gradate scheme includes time working in our Accelerated Solutions Environment which is not an ordinary working environment.Tom Pickles

  7. sonofthedestroyer responds:

    I believe in lake monsters.

    The best evidence I have ever seen was video footage of the ‘Denby dinosaur’ from the UK.

    Loren Coleman interestingly appeared on the documentary that showed this footage.

    Two monsters were videoed and photographed by the same journalist from two different lakes. One was Loch Lomond in Scotland I think. The second was in Wales.

    I was AMAZED at the almost unmistakable crocodilian/reptilian type creatures that appear.

    What is even more interesting is that virtually nobody talks about it. The media says hardly anything and even within cryptid circles its unknown.

    A small clip was on youtube before it disappeared. Luckily I think I may have saved it on an external hard drive. Will look for it and upload it if I can.

    As for this Bownessie? Can’t tell. This is nowhere near as good as the Denby Dino footage.

  8. DWA responds:

    Matt Bille: both things are important – witness veracity and details of sighting.

    I think that one tends to reinforce the other. I’m having considerable heartburn with someone sayong over and over “this guy is the most reliable citizen EVER” and he is CERTAIN that he saw a “fuzzy thing” that means an Earth invasion is imminent. Or Bownessie, or Bigfoot, same thing.

    If you are so damn reliable, and you feel you saw something…tell us WHAT THAT IS. Folks can vouch for you all they want, but “it was big and fuzzy and…BIGFOOT, I TELL YOU!!!” isn’t moving my needle any.

    Lots of detail by a known liar is potentially lots of lying. Reported by someone with a well-known reputation for honesty and veracity and powers of observation is…well, not proof, but we’ll put it in the “interesting, what else is there like this?” pile.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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