Was Arthur Grant’s Nessie Encounter Fact or Fiction?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 19th, 2011

Arthur Grant and his motorbike allegedly collided with a Loch Ness Monster in 1934.

Opinions vary on whether it was an actual sighting or an imagined incident.

Here is what Tony Harmsworth shared today:

This is what I actually say in my book about Grant:

It was not much later that a young veterinary student called Arthur Grant claimed that the monster, with a sheep in its mouth, had run across the road knocking him off his motorcycle before leaping the wall and disappearing into the loch.
There are actually two versions of stories for how this Grant sighting came to the attention of the world. I must admit that they are both believable, but there would seem to be little chance today of actually finding out which is correct.
The version I had heard, from the late Joyce MacDonald of Drumnadrochit, was that Grant had fallen off his motorbike near what is now the Abriachan nursery and when he arrived home his mother asked how he had damaged his motorbike. Grant came up with the story that he had been knocked off the bike by the monster.
A friend of his, possibly many years later, told Joyce’s husband, Willie MacDonald that he had overheard the story and told a journalist. The account then appeared in the newspapers.
Today we have no way of discovering who that friend was.
A more recent version which I heard from Dick Raynor was that Arthur Grant and a friend were calling the newspapers themselves from a telephone at a local garage owned by Alec Menzies who had overheard one end of the conversation and also heard Grant turn to his friend after the call and say, “They’ve swallowed it.”.
Whichever was true I hope the reader will accept that neither Grant nor Spicer really saw any large unknown animal. In the defence of Spicer, Adrian Shine believes that they may have seen an otter or some deer distorted by a mirage beyond the hot tarmac on the brow of a hill.
Maybe so, but I feel that it is far more likely to have just been a joke.

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.

43 Responses to “Was Arthur Grant’s Nessie Encounter Fact or Fiction?”

  1. WeirdTwist.com responds:

    It’s funny how nobody thought Nessie was plesiosaur-like until until Mrs. Mackey’s encounter in 1933. Then everybody jumped on board. I think Nessie is a giant eel, but that is less romantic than a dinosaur.

  2. Vane responds:

    I agree, if it’s there it’s an eel of some sort. (or eel like creature) But nobody wants to buy a shirt from a Loch Ness gift shoppe with a crappy drawn eel on it.

  3. Mibs responds:

    I wonder why pinnipeds are not listed more as possible candidates for Nessie sightings. It’s not far-fetched to imagine a colony or individual seals to make their way up the canals that empty from the Loch. Here in California there have been a couple of instances where sea lions made their way almost a hundred miles inland via water ducts.

    The encounter described here could easily be explained as an encounter with a mature elephant seal.

  4. springheeledjack responds:

    It’s all relegated to hear say now. It very well could have been a kid trying to cover his butt…however, it also could have been the real thing. No offense, but a kid would have an easier time getting out of trouble with a more mundane excuse than he “ran into the loch ness monster”. That seems a litte far fetched to me…as a parent, I’d be more inclined to think he was flat out lying.

    As for the Spicers–I am sick to death of the frolicking otter argument. It doesn’t hold water in the least. It’s ridiculous, plain and simple. Read the account. And again, that’s my problem with the scoftics and the debunkers–they’re just as bad as the people who believe that everything seen on the loch is Nessie. They’re SO concerned with finding ANY mundane excuse that could fit the particular circumstances of a sighting, that they forget the actual context of the accounts…or just flat out ignore them.

    Mibs–in the last piece on Nessie, Loren brought up the interesting statistic that in Europe, the popular explanation of Nessie is the plesiosaur, while across the water in the U.S. the popular explanation is the long necked pinniped. Cultural? Regional? Who knows, but I too am a product of my country, cause I think a long necked pinniped is a really viable candidate…for now:)

  5. Zilla responds:

    I don’t see a seal or any type of mammal as a candidate. They are not seen on land enough, and a seal just does not fit with many sightings. I’m certainly in the giant eel camp.

  6. scaryeyes responds:

    Interesting. In light of your earlier post, Loren, I went back and re-read both Dinsdale’s and Witchell’s account of Grant’s sighting and in neither of them does Grant claim the animal had a lamb in its mouth, nor does he claim he collided with it or had any physical contact with it at all, nor does he make any reference to any damage to his bike. I’ve read all the Nessie books I’ve ever been able to get my hands on and I can’t remember any reference to Grant’s animal carrying a lamb or a physical collision in a single one (unfortunately, my library is at one end of the country and I’m at the other right now, so I can’t doublecheck this by hand, but I’m fairly confident of my memory in this regard). Either Dinsdale and Witchell and other writers have missed out these salient details or else the story has become rather embellished by someone somewhere along the line. Not going to speculate on who’s doing the embellishing, but suffice to say what Harmsworth says here isn’t the version of the sighting I’m familiar with.

    The Spicers did speculate at one point their animal was carrying a lamb to explain an anomalous object that seemed to be attached to it (this is the same object Gould interpreted as the tip of the tail swinging round and Holiday as a flipper), perhaps there’s been some confusion between the two sightings?

    Mibs – Elephant seals are usually found in the pacific or the southern hemisphere, so one turning up in Scotland would be an anomaly in itself, but I admit I have wondered if seals have played a part in some land sightings. Common (harbour) seals and grey seals are native to British waters, and male greys in particular are pretty big.

  7. Loren Coleman responds:

    Yes, I was waiting to see if anyone caught that. Good to note that scaryeyes did.

    As far as I’m concerned, it appears that Tony Harmsworth has mixed the “lamb in the mouth” detail from the Spicers’ account with the Grant report.

  8. springheeledjack responds:

    Eels aren’t exactly land lubbers either. Because of the large humps seen and becauseof the head / neck sightings, I can’t go for the eel as the source of the sightings. Eels, even over sized ones (which at this time don’t fit the size range for eels either) don’t have enough body mass for “upturned” boat shapes in the water, nor do they have the ability to stick their heads out of the water for any length, and even if they could it would look all wrong…eels are fish and their spines move side to side. With regard to mass and weight, for an eel to stick its head out of the water even six feet would require a huge amount of the body still under the water, and it still wouldn’t be able to sustain it for any length of time. Watch a snake some time and see what percentage of its body is capable of lifting off the ground in relation to the length of the rest of its body (of course snakes and eels may be apples and oranges, but it’s as close a comparison as I can come up with).

    No, we’re looking at an animal that can lift its head out of the water (or keep it submerged) and either surface the rest of its body or not. We’re loooking at something that can come on land for a distance and still maneuver at a decent clip while being built for the water. We’re also looking at something that can navigate in a peat ridden loch in colder temperatures–while possibly some of the dinosaur crowd was able to tolerate or adapt to such things, we haven’t figured that out yet from the fossil record.

    A pinniped fits the bill (so far) much better than a reptile or a fish for that environment. I don’t pretend to have the answer, but looking at the body of reports from beginning to present, it’s where my money’s at.

    As for Arthur Grant and his motorbike, who knows. However, if Tony Harmsworth can get his stories mixed around, then his perspective is already skewed and can we really trust his conclusions??? (By the way, that actually is an invalid argument–that since the source in an argumnet makes one mistake about his information, that the rest of his conclusions are likewise thrown out because of his base mistake–I only point that out because that is another favorite scoftic / debunker tactic–namely, finding one tiny piece of a sighting and refuting it, like the time of day was wrong or the place was wrong, etc. and then throwing out the entire sighting based on one misperception–just because a person gets one detail wrong does not automatically make the rest of the argument invalid—we have to remember this chain of reasoning when people start debunking sightings).

    There I’m off my soap box now.

    Oh, and WeirdTwist–yes, I think that’s when the plesiosaur motif came around, but it may well have been the media that pushed that idea to the forefront of people’s minds–they tend to latch onto the easiest and most eye catching explanations to sell headlines, and a plesiosaur sounds a lot more exciting than ‘some unknown animal’. That and what Loren said about the demographics on plesiosaurs vs. pinnipeds…

  9. springheeledjack responds:

    And to qualify my first post…when I was talking about thinking that my kid was lying, I meant that in reference to the fact that if my kid wrecked his motorbike, saying it happened because he ran into a monster (or even veered off the road because he saw it) is going to raise more eyebrows and make me think he’s making something up, than if he just said a deer jumped out at me and I wrecked. I’m more inclined to believe the kid’s story because it’s odd–even for the 1934 time frame–Nessie was getting a lot of attention then, but it’s still pretty odd to use for an excuse.

    Even in my teen years I never blamed Bigfoot for my getting in after curfew (and he was supposedly creeping around my town and surrounding area in the 70’s). Even if I’d have thought of it, I would have figured I could have come up with something more plausible…

  10. Turtledover responds:

    This Arthur Grant sighting of the Loch Ness cryptid on land was a key event in my interest in Loch Ness as a cryptid to begin with. It was as important to me as the Albert Ostman kidnapping incident or miner Fred Beck in Ape Canyon is with the Sasquatch. I was heavily influenced by the Sun Pictures type of movies of the 1970’s and 1980’s and they always showed the speedboat that hit something in Loch Ness when that daredevil was attempting to set a world speed record, and then this Arthur Grant sighting would be mentioned, due to the infamous “1933-era road building with dynamite” project around Inverness, Scotland.

    If these incidents become suspect, or watered down, or just silly in recollection, it really hits the structural supports of a lot of the canon of cryptozoology in these subject areas. For me at least.

  11. Vane responds:

    alright, so maybe not an eel. ( but the largest one even caught was 5 feet so its naive to make blind assumptions about an unknown species that would exceed that by at least 5 or times ) but it seems alot more likely than anything mammalian. Seals, otters, walruses, limp horned narwhals all need to come to the surface to breathe. and with the Loch having as many residents as it does (plus Nessie tourists who constantly scan the the surface with their powerful cameras and cliche binoculars) i think more people would have seen something that has to come up that often. ( unless you subscribe to the underwater caves theory. ) same with anything reptilian, (cretaceous era leftovers that somehow survived the multiple ice ages and cataclysms since then) so that doesn’t add up either.
    Its a Trunko, and thats all i have to say about that.

  12. silverity responds:

    The trouble was that Marmaduke Wetherell got in on the act. When he heard about the Grant sighting he with the Daily Mail correspondent (F.W.Memory I think) got an interview and when some lamb carcass was found they photographed Grant and Wetherell examining strands of wool attached to a bush. So that may explain the lamb angle.

    But yes, no mention of it in the original account. Being a vet student, it would be ridiculous to suggest Grant saw an otter and failed to recognise it for what it was. Yes, it was 1am on a winter night but it was either a full or gibbous moon and the beast was caught in his headlights.

    Grant came in for some vicious ribbing from his fellow students and wished he had never made his experience public. When Constance Whyte interviewed him over twenty years later he was still sticking to his story.

    And, springheeledjack, I agree on the Spicer thing. It gets a bit wearing when sceptics force upon us “explanations” which bear little resemblance to the original account and require us to regard the witnesses as incompentent fools.


  13. DWA responds:

    When it’s one account, and opinion is divided on whether it was real or imagined (!?!?!?), it’s a toss. Done.

  14. Zilla responds:

    Vane’s right. Maybe not an eel, but I can’t say I agree with Trunko. What is it? I… don’t know. These lake monsters just do not seem to have a great candidate. There are holes in every theory. But I really, really do not see a mammal.

  15. springheeledjack responds:

    I subscribe to a theory that has been offered before, but I like to bring it up:)

    The loch is 24 miles long, a mile wide and that makes for a huge amount of surface area. I mean we’re talking 24 square miles of surface to keep tabs on, and that’s ASSuming everyone who is lochside is watching the loch on a regular basis.

    There are quite a few people living loch side and during the summer months (and probably some off season too given the lure of NEssie) there are a lot of tourists. And I have no doubt that every disturbance in the loch gets twice the scrutiny it would in any other lake (well, unless they’ve got monster sightings there too).

    Yet, still, given that, there’s plenty of places along the shore that people are not–even along the roads there are lots of places where the treeline obscurs viewing the loch and you’re also looking down on it in a lot of places which adds to the distance. Add to that the fact that even a single person looking on the water is going to have to scan a fairly large amount of water.

    The theory I back is that whatever it is, doesn’t have to fully surface in order to breathe. If it is an air breather, why would it? All it really needs to do is to bring its snout to the surface. Seals do that, even alligators and crocs do that (though I’ll give you, alligators often look like the floating log, but that’s because of the way they’re built). Something with a long neck could easily just bring its head near to the surface and possibly just its snout–something that would be a lot harder to spot out toward the center of the loch a half mile out, and even more so when the loch isn’t mirror calm.

    From the reports, Nessie has a history of being skitterish of noise and sounds, and may be a very shy critter. I’m assuming that it’s then aware of humans because it wouldn’t have any other predators to fear (I’m assuming we only have one active cryptid in those waters:). If it is aware of us and does tend to steer clear of us, then that will make it even harder to spot as it will be more aware of us than we would be of it (look at how many animals in the wild are aware of you before you ever get near them).

    Yep, I’m making several assumptions in my argument, but that’s the way it goes with this. You make a guess, test it as best you can from the evidence you do have and if that gets shot down you make a new theory and go from there.

    I think we’re looking at something with a bigger middle and torso than say like Caddy or Ogopogo which seem more serpent like, and I think the reason the plesiosaur and even long necked pinniped are so readily latched onto is because they fit the body shape, based on the collection of sightings.

    That’s another maddening part about hunting water cryptids–you have to sift through people’s perceptions. People have described Nessie as having: a goat’s head, horse, sheep, etc. and it just depends on what people are familiar with in the animal world–eveyone’s always trying to relate these things to something tangible they are familiar with to try to understand just what the heck they’re looking at. For me, all of those descriptions have a commonality–the head is heavier at the base, and tapering toward the mouth, either rounded or not.

    As for the caves theory…I don’t know, honestly if that has ever been substantiated or was just thrown out there. I’m not sure if sonar could pick up on that or not. It’s possible I suppose, but seeing as how loch ness was carved out by glaciers, I wouldn’t guess there’s a vast underwater cave network, but again who knows?

    I’m not 100% tied into the pinniped theory, it’s just the closest I can come up with at the moment to wrap my own mind around in trying to come to terms with what’s living in there. Shoot me another theory and I’ll give it the same creedance I do to the pinniped theory–applying sightings to it to see if it can hold up, and then go from there.

  16. BobbyMadison responds:

    It’s always annoying to read revisionist explanations, that are not credited to a specific person. The Binns book is full of such unattributed statements, such as “years later, a friend stated that it was common knowledge in the area that the story was a fake”. He makes one such statement about the 3 hump photograph, claiming that because the man who was with the photographer was named Hays, that locals “knew” it was merely 3 bales of hay, covered with tarp. But no names, no history, no corroboration. I would put the debunking of the Arthur Grant sighting in that category . Hearsay opinions, long after the fact, which can’t be refuted by the person involved, and passed off as truth. Grrrrr.

  17. silverity responds:

    Yes, it does make sense to only put the minimum above surface to fill the lungs with fresh air. After all, evolution always talks about converging on efficient solutions to minimize food intake and making the animal less obvious to predators.

    However, I would expect the sonar results to have picked up more if Nessie was a mammal. But this could be countered by saying that she is a bottom/side dweller where sonar is no good. The problem there partly lies in having to ascend from up to 750 feet below to get a gulp of air and then descend again which seems grossly inefficient. This is is not such an issue is the creature lives along the shallower sides of the loch.

    Of course, if Nessie was a certain type of amphibian, surfacings will be far less frequent.

  18. silverity responds:

    So Tony Harmsworth heard it from Dick Raynor who heard it from Alec Menzies who overheard Grant’s friend being told by Grant that “They’ve swallowed it!”

    Wouldn’t we love to get Arthur Grant, his friend and Alec Menzies in a room today and ask all of them some searching questions? Unfortunately, I suspect all three are not alive to confirm or deny this tale.

    These tales are the sceptics’ equivalent of Loch Ness Monster sightings, they can’t be verified and only sceptics will “swallow” them uncritically.

  19. springheeledjack responds:


    I too love how scoftic / debunkers can quickly fall to second or third hand supposed witnesses to support their views to “debunk” a sighting, but then turn around and ask the other side for proof. GOOD call Bobby Madison!!!!

    I agree with you Silverity–there have been minimal sonar hits, and I’m not sure how to qualify or quantify that. My own knowledge of sonar and what it’s capable of and what it’s not is limited. If something was sitting on the bottom or a shelf, would it show up or not? And it has been brought out that sonar use in a deep loch / lake could be messed up because of sonar bouncing off the side walls, etc. As I said, I’m pretty illiterate in that area to be able to offer any kind of even reasonable guess.

  20. Vane responds:

    I agree, if it was a mammal we would have seen more of it by now. No way around that. Mammals are intelligent, very social creatures by nature. If it were some sort of long necked seal I would expect to see some minor surface play at the least, there would have to be a substantial breeding population to avoid inbreeding (with anything that may or may not be down there). With seals and other pinnipeds we always see lounging on the shore and play/territory disputes there too. All in all, it just doesn’t add up. Granted, if it were a massive unknown pinniped there is no real way to guess it’s behavioral patterns besides observing it (which i haven’t), but thats the way all of it’s relatives handle things. An amphibian makes more sense. Giant long necked salamander? Burrows in mud- avoids radar. Comes onto land occasionally. It’s just a better fit from what we know.

  21. silverity responds:


    Sonar is a bit hit and miss and I am pretty sure it is useless on the sides and bottom unless it is an expensive high resolution scanner. These were used in a 2003 scan but only did bits at a time.


  22. Kopite responds:

    I agree with the consensus. Can’t be anything mammalian because it simply would have been seen FAR more often and we’d have the proof by now. Loch Ness isn’t the Atlantic Ocean. Sure it’s long but it’s very narrow and you can easily see cars moving on the opposite side. People have spent a lot of time looking at the surface of the water for decades. A frequent surface visiting air breather would have been discovered and catalogued by now.

    If there is anything there, then it doesn’t ‘need’ to surface much.

    And by the way witnesses descriptions are all over the place and there is little consistency to them. It’s not like bigfoot.

  23. lopes1422 responds:


  24. stickyum responds:

    Well, I’m happy that almost everyone here agrees that Nessie is a plesiosaur-like creature and all her legions of loving fans, around the world, will always keep her close to their hearts! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

  25. springheeledjack responds:

    Silverity–that’s what I thought, but was not sure. Lots of people talk about using sonar, but I had a feeling it wasn’t as solid as everyone seems to think–otherwise we’d probably have a lot more data on this.

    As to the surfacing thing, I’ve said my piece. Loch Ness is only “narrow” in as much as compared to something bigger. We’re talking a mile across…it’s not a stone’s throw. That’s still a huge area–plenty of room to hide, even at the surface.

    I’m a pinniped-er until a better theory rears its head out of the loch.

  26. LvngstoneJS5 responds:

    @ springheeledjack
    FINALLY! someone who actually knows something about how hard it would truly be to see the monster. As you said about the sounds, Echo Location sounds have been recorded in Loch Ness and do not match any known animal. But amazingly enough, echo location sounds that were recorded in Lake Champlain match the Loch Ness sounds almost exactly. With the amount of accounts that say it is an eel, and the amount of acounts that say it is a plesiosaur-like creature, I’m gonna have to go with the plesiosaur. If it is the same kind of animal living in Lake Champlain, then its definitely not an eel according to the amazing picture of Champ taken in 1977.

  27. Kopite responds:


    It shouldn’t be too hard to see the monster at all if it were an air breather. I’ve been to the Loch many many times (I’ve even walked around it’s circumference) and trust me it’s not all that hard to see right across to the other side. As I said, you can even see cars on the opposite side.

    For many years there were dedicated researchers with cameras placed all up and down the loch. The hills above the loch offer superb vantage points. People were constantly watching the loch, cameras at the ready.

    An air breather would be easily catalogued by now. I’d say it’s virtually impossible for the Loch Ness Monster to be an air breather.

    Loch Ness isn’t Lake Champlain or Lake Okanagan. It’s just 1 mile wide with great vantage points all around it. Vantage points that have been used exhaustively to try and spot something.

  28. wuffing responds:

    @ LvngstoneJS5

    You wrote “Echo Location sounds have been recorded in Loch Ness and do not match any known animal. But amazingly enough, echo location sounds that were recorded in Lake Champlain match the Loch Ness sounds almost exactly.”

    Can you give us a reference for the sounds recorded in Loch Ness, and for who did the “matching” with the Champlain recordings?

    Thank you

  29. silverity responds:

    There is some sonar equipment used by Adrian Shine but the best models are normally brought in for TV documentaries and they are normally gone within days! As I said, the creatures are probably noise-averse and may avoid sonar and boats in general. By being forced to the sides or bottom they would never be seen.

    I don’t think they even go near engine boats in general, sonar or no sonar. But you do get the odd anomalous readings are the beast are caught out. To this day, the experts can’t decide on whether these echoes are reflections, refractions and so on.


  30. springheeledjack responds:

    Silverity–there’s quite an extensive list of sightings involving Nessie reacting to sound. I’d say it has very good hearing–makes sense with living in Ness where visibility is down to nil much past the surface. And am guessing too it’s grown accustomed to avoiding boats and engines, etc.

    I don’t have an answer for this one, but I’ve often wondered if an animal with echo-location could and would conceivably detect other sources–it seems plausible that if it can broadcast, it ought to be able to pick up similar signals. If so, it would be relatively easy I think for such a creature to get out of the way of sonar sources. Any theories on that?

    LvingStoneJS5–if you haven’t already, you should read Dennis Hall’s book on Champ–he’s of the mind that it is a long necked dino relative…can’t remember the catchy name he gave it off the top of my head–Champys…something something 🙂

    As for the dino theory in Ness and others–I’m not totally ruling it out, but there’s plenty of problems with that philosophy as well. In regards to our current conversation–if Nessie is capable of echo-location (Champ is quite possibly — due to recordings taken there of something that wasn’t a whale), from what I know, reptiles–even the sea going varieties did not and do not have the capability for echo-location because of the structure of their ears (or lack there of), because of their bone structures. I’m no expert on this either, but I’ve read a couple articles on it.

  31. LvngstoneJS5 responds:

    yes i’ve read that and it is very intriguing that there were sounds of echo location recorded in Lake Champlain and as far as we know, there’s nothing in there capaple of this. And the picture taken by Sandra Mansi is unforgettable. This definitely looks like a plesiosaur, and after tests done on the picture, a mouth and eyes on the creature could be seen

    “It shouldn’t be too hard to see the monster at all if it were an air breather. I’ve been to the Loch many many times (I’ve even walked around it’s circumference) and trust me it’s not all that hard to see right across to the other side. As I said, you can even see cars on the opposite side.”
    Yes, but just because it needs to surface doesn’t mean it needs to surface its whole head or body. Many seals have the ability to just put there nostrils above the water to breathe. Yes, it would stir up the water a tiny bit, but not enough for someone to think it was the monster.

  32. wuffing responds:

    @ LvngstoneJS5 – May I ask again?

    You wrote “Echo Location sounds have been recorded in Loch Ness and do not match any known animal. But amazingly enough, echo location sounds that were recorded in Lake Champlain match the Loch Ness sounds almost exactly.”

    Can you give us a reference for the sounds recorded in Loch Ness, and for who did the “matching” with the Champlain recordings?

    Thank you. W

  33. springheeledjack responds:

    I’ve heard of the Champlain echo location recordings (actually saw it on a show). They made recordings that did not match up with whales or dolphins (the only known species to echo locate at present). Everything I have read does not suggest that any of the sea going dinosaurs were able to echo locate due to the ear bone structures and so on. Doesn’t mean there weren’t any, but it means that we haven’t come across any fossil remains that suggested it was possible. I came across info on the Champlain recordings at animalvoice.com (alternatively you can google echo location lake champlain).

    I haven’t heard of anything on echo location at Ness, and would be interested in that too if it’s out there.

    LvngStoneJS5–I agree, the mansi photo looks dinosaurian to me too, and I’m inclined to believe it’s the real thing. Also did you ever get a chance to see the ABC footage a couple of years back with the two fishermen?? They were in a boat and they got footage of something large coming up under and next to their boat, and it looked long necked to me and not like a fish. It was really cool. I know ABC obtained the rights to the footage and I’ve never seen anything out of it again…I’m not sure what that means, but it baffles me why they’d buy something like that and then silence it.

  34. Lovchanski responds:

    The Spicers’ report was almost certainly brought about by a sight of an inferior mirage. For detailed explanation, see my article here.

  35. Loren Coleman responds:

    Knowing what the Spicers “almost certainly” saw is “almost certainly” untestable. We only have their eyewitness descriptions, and I no more trust the theory that it was “almost certainly brought about by a sight of an inferior mirage” than I do it was “almost certainly” a prehistoric marine reptile or a “a huddle of deer crossing the road” (as Gould’s revised thoughts were, apparently) or a bunch of otters (the most recent popular notion).

    What the Spicers saw was an “unknown,” that I can say with certainty.

  36. springheeledjack responds:

    Ditto. The minute you’re certain of a fact based on an account without any means to back it up, you’ve just almost certainly proved that you’re not credible.

    If you want to say that’s your opinion based on how you read the account, I’ll respect your opinion, but the findings are no more valid than a plesiosaur or godzilla…

  37. wuffing responds:

    The thread title asks “Was Arthur Grant’s Nessie Encounter Fact or Fiction?” and the answer from the people who knew him, and were there around that crazy Christmas and New Year of ’33 / ’34 is plain – “Fiction”.

    The thread has now moved on to the Spicers. I agree with Loren Coleman when he wrote “What the Spicers saw was an “unknown,” that I can say with certainty.”

    However, it need only be an unknown solution out of a relatively few possibilities and as Mr Lovchanski’s article points out, the Spicers’ accounts do vary in their details.

    If we accept Witchell’s 1972 figures based on contemporary letters and press reports, the Spicers were travelling at about 20 mph and the “thing” was about 200 yards in front of them at first sighting. If it had been closer – like the 50 yards mentioned in some versions – then they would probably have collided with it as 20 mph is about 10 yards per second.

    The thing moved across the road, so it was living and presumably not Mr Shaw dragging fallen tree-branches across the road in the course of his work. There are not many living things which fit the size requirements in normal viewing conditions and not many more which do so in abnormal ones. The behaviour of crossing the road and disappearing into undergrowth is not consistent with the largest candidates – horses, cows, ponies and sheep which stop in the road, deposit some excrement and stare down the impudent motorist; the time of day tends not to favour crepuscular or nocturnal creatures like badgers, otters and foxes, which leads inevitably towards Mr Gould’s considered opinion in later years – a “huddle of deer”.

    What can be relegated to the realms of fantasy is a 30 foot fully aquatic fish-eating quadruped with flippers which can swim at 10 mph for a few minutes at a time which 1/3 of it body above the surface, and then dive for extended periods, and then get out and climb up a 20 foot high bank and cross the road into a pine forest.

  38. DWA responds:

    Precisely, Loren. (SHJ. And whoever else has said essentially that.)

    Cryptozoology will make no headway debating individual occurrences. They’re done. If no proof was garnered as immediate followup, all each encounter is is one more on the pile.

    The question: how big, and how consistent, is the pile?

    If it’s big, and consistent, i.e., possessing frequency and coherence, it almost does not matter what individual scientists think. Science – the discipline – absolutely demands followup to determine what is causing the pile to happen. Period. That’s why the evidence for hairy hominoids compels scientific attention.

    Do you have that here?

    Scientists should discuss individual occurrences to get a feel for what is in the pile, and whether it compels interest. Indeed, this is how consistency is determined. But in the end, no single encounter matters. The only thing that matters is:

    Are there many? And are they consistent?

  39. springheeledjack responds:

    DWA–thanks for summing that up–I haven’t been able to quite put it into words in that sense, but that’s the gist of it plain and simple.

    The scoftic / debunking crowd prefers to nitpick individual occurrences within the “pile” thereby trying to negate the entire pile (invalid all the way around). As with this article. And what Tony Harmsworth did here was take a third or fourth hand account to try to apply it to the Arthur Grant sighting to throw it out–which is really just silly in and of itself.

    In the end we’re looking at the body of data, looking for patterns and variables and trying to reduce the information we have by testing theories against our data (or obtaining more data to test) to come up with an explanation of what’s going on. And that’s why I’m in on something other than eels and otters in Ness. The body of data assembled has enough merit for me to keep investigating the loch for whatever is there.

    Nuff said.

    Good thread.

  40. Lovchanski responds:

    As Wuffing has correctly noted, there are not too many possibilities to account for the report.

    The Spicers’ report was caused either by external stimuli (I intentionally use plural here) or by their own mental construction (in which case they were hoaxers).

    Since I do not believe their intention was to deceive (for reasons explained by Gould, etc.), they must have indeed seen something, which provoked their senses.

    If they saw the shape they reported, then it was either an unknown, multi-tonne animal, dragging its bulk across the road in broad daylight and disappearing in a matter of seconds from sight, or it was a known natural occurrence.

    As I explain in my paper that it was highly unlikely that a 10 tonne* animal could exhibit such behaviour and remain undetected in a modern day Britain, the only rational explanation is that the eyewitnesses saw a known animal (or animals) whose view was distorted by known meteorological phenomenon. The mirage mechanism completely explains the shape and the motion exhibited by the observed object. Hence, the likeliness of it being involved.

    I think anyone inclined to scientific method will agree with me in my certainty that the Spicers simply could not have seen an unknown animal. It is a matter of simple logical deduction.

    * Let us suppose for a moment that the object was indeed 7.6 m long and 1.5 m high (as claimed at one point by the Spicers). But this length was meant to apply only to the body and a ‘neck’ (see Fig.4 in Dinsdale 1962:41), which was bent. Thus by adding the extra length to account for the fully stretched neck and the tail, which was curved along the far side of the body, the monster had to be about 12 m in total length! By using a scale (1:50) model (which I constructed) of the monster as drawn by Gould, I was able to calculate its volume and, consequently, its living mass. The volume of such a creature would be about 10,000 cubic metres, and assuming that its density was similar to most of the known vertebrates (1 g/cubic cm), it would weigh in at a staggering 10,000 kg (10 t)! How an aquatic animal the size of two fully grown African elephants would be able to drag its bulk across roads alongside Loch Ness and remain undiscovered for centuries is a symptomatic question. How is it possible for such a beast to simply disappear in a matter of seconds from the road, and then to hide its massive body in the adjacent vegetation?

    I call for reality check!

  41. springheeledjack responds:

    Lovchanski–you are making a bunch of assumptions based off of the testimony of two people, and you still can’t work out exact weights because you don’t know exactly the proportions of the animal–in fact your basing it on first, the Spicers account, then supposition based on Dinsdale followed by a drawing from Gould. There’s so many variables for error there–you’re estimation (and that’s all it is since you have no real quantifiable facts other than the Spicer’s estimation of size-which is certainly open to error or over or under estimation) is subjective to your own interpretation, but since they saw an animal that was unknown crossing in front of them and into the loch, obviously your calculations are wrong.

    One man’s “simple logical deduction” is a fancy way of saying he’s reaching the conclusion he’d like to believe using the “scientific method” as his scapegoat.

    That’s the problem here–again without a specimen, we don’t know the real physical characteristics of the animal, and ESPECIALLY since our SPICER witnesses only saw a portion of the animal and the rest obscured by the road and brush, if your calculations are out of whack, then the more logical explanation is that you don’t have enough facts to make a realistic measurement.

    That’s another tried and true debunker / scoftic angle: making claims about being scientific and using scientific methods while in reality they’re just using one small piece of information and extrapolating it to get the results they want to put forth in the first place.

    Scientifically and skeptically, I’m looking for an animal that is unknown to science (as yet) that lives in Loch Ness and I’m not going to make the mistake of “knowing” exactly what it is until we get the proof. That’s how real mistakes are made and that’s what has kept a lot of crypto critters in the back alleys to date.

    Alright, again, good posts all…am moving on…

  42. Lovchanski responds:

    but since they saw an animal that was unknown crossing in front of them and into the loch, obviously your calculations are wrong.

    Scientifically and skeptically, I’m looking for an animal that is unknown to science (as yet) that lives in Loch Ness and I’m not going to make the mistake of “knowing” exactly what it is until we get the proof. That’s how real mistakes are made and that’s what has kept a lot of crypto critters in the back alleys to date.


    My arguments are well documented, thoroughly researched, backed by experiments and measurements (all of which are based on the available evidence). Finally, they were demonstrated and presented in such a form so as to be acceptable for The Skeptic journal to publish them. Furthermore, the mechanisms I describe were acknowledged by individuals from academic institutions and by those who have many years of experience in the Loch Ness research.

    Can you deliver the same in support of your claims? I can’t see that happening.

    It is one thing to bash other people’s work from a comfortable, anonymous position, but quite another to research the matter in depth (no pun intended) for yourself and try to back up your claims with some substantial and verifiable data.

  43. DWA responds:

    I’d echo SHJ’s concern that to take related particulars of a sighting as if they are scientific data from which conclusions can be extrapolated stretches science beyond comfortable bounds.

    No one can “prove” the provenance of this encounter, as no one followed up adequately to provide the data required to do so. This is more than shaky enough to go down as a simple tall tale. But we’ll never know.

    Moreover, this doesn’t cast any light on other encounters (which themselves are all-over-the-map enough that debunking no single one can do that). It’s not beating a dead horse; it’s beating a horse that was never really there.

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