The Puzzle of Nessie’s Neck

Posted by: Nick Redfern on January 30th, 2013

Water Horses Loch Ness

Glasgow Boy has a fascinating new post at his Loch Ness Mystery blog that attempts to answer one particular puzzle surrounding the creatures of Loch Ness. And what might that be? Well, I’ll tell you!

Despite what many might think or assume, not everyone who claims to have seen a strange creature in the loch has reported the classic long neck. Sometimes, there’s barely any neck at all.

So, does this mean we’re dealing with endless cases of hoaxing and mistaken identity? No.

GB suggests there might be another answer – a very intriguing one…

Nick Redfern About Nick Redfern
Punk music fan, Tennents Super and Carlsberg Special Brew beer fan, horror film fan, chocolate fan, like to wear black clothes, like to stay up late. Work as a writer.

11 Responses to “The Puzzle of Nessie’s Neck”

  1. Goodfoot responds:

    Huh? A tail with a head on the end? Let’s be clear: IF IT’S GOT A HEAD ON THE END, IT’S A NECK.

  2. springheeledjack responds:

    With the retractable or extendable neck, it could also be that the observer was seeing things at a distance and angle that made it look like it was doing such–with perspective all kinds of things are possible, especially in the water.

    I’m always reminded of Ness’s famous water baliff who’s seen the critter umpteen times. In one instance he saw the head and neck surface and then around bend (can’t remember the exact location off hand), a boat was approaching. The water baliff talked about how the head and neck swiveled around as if it heard the approach of the boat, but could not see it, and when the boat came into view, the head and neck plunged into the water.

    I’m not sure what sort of invertebrate would display characteristics like Nessie (nah, I don’t buy the squid theory), with a boat shaped back, head and neck, fins and so on. I can’t even come up with anything close from living invertebrates that might fit the bill. Squid propel themselves in a way that doesn’t represent Nessie and most other things fall short on other counts.

    Interesting theory, though. I’m hoping that with more and more underwater cameras and tech being used in the oceans (like the search for the giant squid that was on last week), that sooner or later someone’s going to accidentally catch some good footage of some as yet undiscovered, large aquatic critters to take the heat off of those hundreds (if not thousands) of drunken, female starved sailors that always get such a bad rap…

  3. Barry responds:

    Hi G.B.
    I have followed your excellent work for quite a while on the investigation of the phenomena known as “Nessie”.
    In the early sixties I myself was involved with a privately [self funded] investigation which involved a total of three trips per year to this famed local. These trips covered a span of five years or so, and over this period my colleague and I experienced Quite a few inexplicable sightings of something that was “not quite the norm”. We saw “humps” at a distance [not standing waves] disturbances in the water for no reason what-so-ever, but nothing really tangible to photograph.

    I think now the year was 1964, we had been pursuing this legend since 1961 after the release of Tim Dinsdale’s book. This specific day was unforgettable to say the least. We started to set up our equipment on the lawn at the Foyers Hotel. I was patiently setting up a Russian 1000mm telephoto lens with camera attached onto a sturdy tripod, meanwhile my associate was busy scanning the bay below through powerful Binoculars. All of a sudden the silence was broken. He yelled for me to come and see what he had in his field of view. I could not leave what I was doing, as the lens which was a very big and expensive item needed careful handling. He sounded agitated, so I set the unit onto the grass and dashed to the edge of the lawn expecting to see some kind of prehistoric denizen cavorting in the bay below.

    I “glassed” the bay carefully following his instructions as to location, but all I saw was the head of “something” [not recognizable] just above the surface, that was moving across the bay at a steady clip. I went back for the lens and attached it to the tripod in record time, then returned. The head was now fully submerged with no sign of any disturbance in the water, — it never to came back up. Disappointment is not an apt description for what I felt, and yet my colleague was still in a state of high euphoria.

    Once things had settled down and he had “taken stock” of the situation I questioned him on just what he had seen. Now these are his exact words [or close to them] “What I saw lying just submerged, was what looked like a gigantic Turtle without the shell”, — “It also looked like it was “flattened out” and seemed extremely wide”. He also noted that it had four appendages of which he could just about make out. In length he thought it would have been 25 feet plus in length, size is a hard thing to estimate in the heat of the moment, with only a little more than a fleeting glimpse.

    This mans word I could take to the bank. He was not one for imaginary flights of fancy. At the time he was in his early seventies and resided in Birmingham dealing in rare books.

    So you see GB, the Turtle theory may not be far from the truth. In 1967 I left the UK to reside in Canada. I’m now living in British Columbia still searching for those elusive cryptids.
    Please keep up this terrific work GB.

  4. silverity responds:

    Thanks Barry,

    With your permission, I’ll put your sighting experience up on my blog?


  5. Barry responds:

    Roland —- No problem at all — please feel free to do so.

  6. Barry responds:

    Hi Glasgow Boy,
    This may be of interest to you also, but first let me say you’ve made me look at the Hugh Gray photograph in a whole new light — congratulations — I had not thought of his photograph in too bright a light before your analysis. — Thank you!

    I think in the sixties the general consensus for the creatures slot in society was for it to be a “throw-back’ of the extinct species known as Plesiosaur. It had found its niche,but for the people that studied the phenomenon, there were many things “out of place” with the whole concept. The distinct difference in the formations of the creature perturbed us. We discussed the problem over and over again, but found it very hard to consolidate the various shapes into one specific creature. The observations below were all made by credible witnesses.

    [1] We mused over the Peter O’Connor’s photograph —- A large bulbous body and a small diameter neck, this could be a “winner” for the Plesiosaur type creature theory.

    [2] We also mused over Lachlan Stuart’s photograph —– A display of three very angular humps, these were in direct conflict with Peter O’Connor’s photo and also our vision of a Plesiosaur.

    [3] There were literally hundreds of reports of multiple hump formations [from a single hump to as many as nine or more] these did not fit into any category that we knew. — these also did not fit anywhere in our vision of a Plesiosaur.

    [4] Credible observations of the creature slowly sinking beneath the surface of the Loch without leaving any air bubbles or other aquatic disturbance,— nothing we knew could do that.

    [5] Observations of the creature actually “changing its shape” on the surface of the Loch — put these all together and you have one distinct kind of creature but, — not one we knew.

    These were a few of the main things that didn’t fit into any type of creature we knew, or had read about.
    We were disturbed, we both knew by this time, that, there was something in the Loch, but to categorize it was another thing all together. We returned home to think about our problematic creature and do more research. My colleague out of the blue, called me on the phone. I’m sending you a copy of the Reverend Hutchinson’s Extinct Monsters so read up on the Plesiosaurs.

    I’m not too sure of the exact wording, but here goes.“It is observed that this extinct creature has a special gland enabling it to compress air within”. This was indeed a revelation it meant that —
    With this ability it could change its shape purely by compression.— Sink like a stone by making itself smaller without leaving a disturbance. When taking its fill of oxygen before compression it could “balloon up” [O’Connor’s photo] — In a stage before oxygen intake the ballooning effect would disappear and it may account for the angular hump configuration. [Stuart’s photo].

    I’m not too sure where Hutchinson’s information was “gleaned” from but it fit the slot.

    We thought we had all the answers, and that, in time it would be so proved . Well its been forty five years since those thoughts were born, so come on guys — IT’S YOUR TURN. —

    I’ll look after the creature known as Ogopogo here in Canada.

  7. silverity responds:


    Yes, I also think along the gas filled chamber(s) line. Some sightings are silent descents but there are also reports of the waters foaming about the creature as it submerges which may point to gas discharge.

  8. Barry responds:

    Hi Roland,
    I was going to add a comment on those happenings but, I figured I’d already rambled on enough for the posting. Yes this foaming phenomena has been noted many times. Maybe, if we are of a belief that the creature has the ability to compress air, it must also have the internal structure to expell air in the same fashion. This would create a large amount of bubbles around the creature which people could mistakenly observe as foam.

  9. Barry responds:

    Hi GB.

    Could the Loch Ness Monster have a retractable neck like a Turtle?

    If you take a long look at the photograph that Peter O’Connor took of the body and neck shown in Dinsdale’s book the “Loch Ness Monster”. The body of course looks very bulbous with the neck seemingly too small in diameter to be self supporting over its length. Also in this shot we don’t even see the total extent of the neck as it is purportedly turned away from the camera. With this extra dimension added to the visual length it makes the situation for self support even worse. One is totally out of proportion with the other.
    Now if you get the chance to view Arlene Gaal’s Book “In Search of Ogopogo” there is a photograph on page 104 [Francey/Gall photo] which shows a body and a extremely long neck. The neck is raised into an almost vertical position and in fact seems to “thin out” at about its centre. Creating a visually slight bend, with the head becoming just a continuation of the neck. Both these photographs are very similar yet, they’re taken on two different continents.
    The bulbous shape of the body can be attributed to the possibility of its ability to compress and expel air [discussed in an earlier comment]. The neck problem sticks out like a sore thumb unless we say —-

    —- In swimming a creature of this size, obviously a very powerful swimmer it just wouldn’t be plausible to have a neck sticking out so far to the front. Below the surface at speed, it would be ungainly and awkward. Certainly it would not be an asset in forward propulsion at any speed under water. If it stalks its prey by lying in wait, it would also be more feasible with a retracted neck. The mechanism of the Turtle style neck would be the answer, also as with the Turtle, the head is but an extension of the neck, this is noted by observers of the creatures on multiple occasions.

    Of course this is pure conjecture, but from my colleagues description of what he saw in Foyers bay, a creature with this type of neck mechanism would cover the many variations of sightings of the same
    beast. The only other alternative I can think of is that there are multiple types of beast within the loch — and that I don’t believe.


  10. silverity responds:


    Yes, I think the varying lengths of Nessie necks (or whatever it is) points to retractability. I am also of the mind that Nessie is an opportunistic predator that lies camoflagued waiting for fish to pass and just shoot out the head/neck to grab them. This is more efficient than constantly swimming around for food. Being placed some feet down on the shoreline grabbing the salmon and trout as they do their runs is one particular mode of hunting I am thinking of.

  11. kingofaquaria responds:

    When I was a kid back in the sixties my dad and I were fishing on Lake Tibet-Butler near Orlando when our boat was surrounded by millions of tiny bubbles as if we were over a spring. Suddenly, without any warning whatsoever, a big, rotted tree rose to the surface amid a swirl of mud and lake bottom sand. It frightened us both, almost causing my dad to fall in the boat. I started to cry. As we were leaving, Daddy said, “Look back at that tree. Doesn’t it look like a dinosaur!” Sure enough, the branch extendingout of the water bore a remarkable resemblance to a prehistoric creature. Now, imagine the sensation that would have caused if it had happened to a fisherman in the middle of the night . . . he would have high-tailed it out of there and gone home with a story he would tell ’till the end of his days. That’s how lake and river monster stories get started.

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