By Nick Redfern
WHEN we think of Loch Ness, Scotland, it’s all but certain that the first thing that will spring to mind is the Loch Ness Monster. Or, to be correct, the Loch Ness Monsters. A large number of people claim to have seen the long-necked, humped leviathan of the deep. Some have even photographed and filmed it. Nessie, as the beast is affectionately known, has been a staple part of the world of the unexplained since 1933, when the phenomenon of the monster exploded in spectacular, planet-wide fashion. Since then, millions of people have flocked to the shores of the 22.5 miles long and 744 feet deep loch, all in the hopes of seeing the elusive creature. Attempts have been made to seek out Nessie with sonar-equipment, aircraft, balloons, and even submarines. There is, however, something else in the history of Loch Ness. It’s a story that doesn’t involve monsters, but something else entirely different.
It was in 1976 that the remains of a Second World War-vintage aircraft were found in Loch Ness. It was a Vickers Wellington Bomber, the brainchild of one Barnes Wallis, a man who created a revolutionary “bouncing bomb” during the hostilities with Nazi scum, and which was designed to destroy German dams. The Dam-Busters, as the team that dropped the bombs was known, succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, leaving a significant scar on Hitler’s war-machine. The British Royal Navy conclusively identified the aircraft as a Wellington. They even managed to identify its serial number: N2980. There was nothing particularly mysterious about N2980: as far back as late 1939, it had taken part in no less than fourteen bombing missions over Germany, before being transferred to Lossiemouth, where it was then used to train newly drafted aircrews. Official records on the crash were quickly accessed and told a memorable story.
Military records showed that the aircraft ditched into Loch Ness on December 31, 1940 – New Year’s Eve – after experiencing problems with one of the engines during a turbulent snow storm, high above the domain of monsters. It was when the crew was over the Monadhliath Mountains – which are to the southeast of Loch Ness – that problems began. They were problems which led Squadron-Leader Nigel Marwood-Elton to give a hasty order to jump ship, so to speak: four crew-members quickly parachuted out of the plane. Tragically, one of them, the rear-gunner, a 20-year-old, Sergeant John Stanley Fensome, was killed when his parachute catastrophically wrapped itself around one of the wings of the doomed plane.
While the crew was racing to exit the aircraft, Marwood-Elton and the co-pilot, named Slater, stayed on-board, struggling to control the aircraft as the dusk skies threatened to give way to darkness. With the snow hammering down and a powerful wind blowing, they maneuvered the plane closer and closer to the loch and, incredibly, actually managed to land it on the surface of the water, ditching near Urquhart Castle. With water already flooding into the aircraft from all corners, they scrambled for an on-board dinghy. The two then clambered out of the plane and onto the starboard wing, where they blew up the dinghy and used it to row to shore, as the aircraft was swallowed up by the waves, practically intact. As they reached land, the two men managed to flag down an astonished truck driver, who quickly drove them to Inverness – no doubt for a couple of wee and hearty drams to help steady their nerves.
It wasn’t until September 1985, and amid more than a few hazards and hiccups, that the bulk of the aircraft was finally raised from the water, with the recovery of numerous, scattered fragments continuing into 1986. Incredibly, and almost unbelievably, the taillights of the plane were still in good, working order. The well-preserved remains of N2980 can now be seen on display at the Brooklands Museum, Surrey, England.
The stranger side of the most famous monster: Bigfoot
By Nick Redfern
TODAY, it’s time for me to turn my attention to the world’s most famous – and most mysterious – monster: Bigfoot. Of course, it should be noted there cannot be just one such creature lumbering and prowling around the vast forests of the United States – even though that’s what its legendary moniker suggests. Such a thing would be undeniably ridiculous. Indeed, quite the opposite is the case: sightings of these immense ape-like animals have been reported from just about every part of the United States. While encounters with such beasts proliferate in the Pacific Northwest, encounters also abound in the Florida Everglades (where the monsters are known as Skunk Apes), in the Piney woods of East Texas, in rural Pennsylvania, and deep in the heart of Arkansas. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. They’re everywhere.
Within the field of mainstream Cryptozoology, several theories have been put forward to valiantly try and explain what the creatures might be. One of the most popular theories goes like this: that the animals are surviving pockets of ancient apes assumed to be long-extinct. One such popular candidate, for some, is Gigantopithecus. National Geographic says: “Sometimes, in evolution, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. And Gigantopithecus was pretty darn big. Fossils indicate it stood as high as 10 feet (3 meters) and weighed up to 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms). If you’re an animal, there are advantages to being gigantic. You’re less vulnerable to predators, and you’re able to cover a lot of territory when looking for food. Gigantopithecus thrived in the tropical forests of what is now southern China for six to nine million years.”
It barely needs saying China is a long way from the United States; something which provokes big problems when it comes to suggesting what people are seeing in the U.S. is Gigantopithecus. There’s another problem, too: the sheer, Goliath-like size of Gigantopithecus has led many creature-seekers to suspect it roamed around like a gorilla does, rather than in the upright fashion of both Bigfoot and us, the human race. Now, things get really weird: not a scrap of evidence has ever been found to suggest that the United States is home to massive groups of unknown apes. Not even to one, in fact. There is nothing at all in the fossil record. Even though that’s what the data collected by cryptozoologists hazily implies. How about Neanderthals who have survived against the odds and in deep stealth? Not a chance in Hell: the Bigfoot creatures are far more animal-like than they are human-like. The same goes for Cro-Magnons, too. Could it get stranger? It could. It does.
As I mentioned above, the Bigfoot creatures are huge in size, and have been seen just about all across the U.S. They have even been seen in heavily populated areas. This suggests there must be significantly-sized numbers of the animals roaming around. Makes sense, right? Right. Yet, here’s the Bigfoot-sized big problem: not a single, solitary creature has ever been found (alive or dead) or captured. Bullets, incredibly, seem to have absolutely no effect on them. Yes, there are those who claim to have killed one or more Bigfoot. Not a single one of those people, however, has ever presented any convincing evidence that bullets can bring down a Bigfoot.
The monsters have never been successfully hit and killed by the drivers of trucks or cars – whether during the day or in the early morning on a winding, heavily forested road. Alleged Bigfoot DNA, hair, and fecal droppings in the hands of monster-hunters have always proved to be – at the very best – ambiguous. The many tracks that have been found in the woods – and that practically dictated the famous name, Bigfoot – only confuse things even more. By that, I mean sometimes the tracks of these mysterious things suddenly vanish in the woods. It’s almost as if the creatures have dematerialized in a flash.
The only thing we can say with absolute certainty is that the Bigfoot have the stunning ability to successfully elude every single one of us one hundred percent of the time. That is – or should be – impossible. Granted, most people never see a mountain lion in the wild. Likewise, to see a wild alligator is a rarity. As is encountering a bear in the woods. But, the fact is, people do see all of those animals in the wilds. And guess what? They do get shot and killed. And, they do race across roads and get fatally slammed by drivers in the early hours. Why, then, are the Bigfoot so incredibly different? As I see it, the answer is simple: because they are different. Extremely different.
New Study May Explain Long, Humped Sea Serpents and Lake Monsters
By Paul Seaburn
TALES of sea serpents and sea monsters have been around ever since humans climbed onto a log to float and decided there must be a better way to sail. They’ve been depicted in stories and movies, pictured on maps and gravitated to lakes, where a few have attained celebrity status (we’re looking at you, Nessie!). And yet … there has never been a plausible explanation for them, especially the massively long, multiple humped versions of lore that couldn’t be written off as giant squids, giant dinosaurs or giant anything else. That changed recently when one researchers studied hundreds of historical sea serpent reports around the British Isles and noticed something many of those multi-humped sea monsters had in common – something that could explain their existence, even in modern times. Was he looking at you too, Nessie?
Robert L. France, currently at the Department of Plants, Food and Environmental Science at Canada’s Dalhousie University, looked at over 200 sea serpent accounts between 1809-2000 from historical newspapers, scientific journals, natural history books, cryptozoology texts, and legally sworn testimonials. While most of the details of each differed greatly, he noticed some commonalities – the body was reported to be unnaturally long, often up to 100 meters (328 feet); each had many humps or coils that appeared simultaneously above the surface; most had hair or whiskers; their movement was either fast swimming or violent thrashing or both. All of this was enough to scare ancient mariners – and many modern sailors as well – but not France. He matched every single one of these actions and descriptions to one ‘creature’.
“The present study demonstrates that careful parsing of eyewitness accounts of unidentified marine objects which at the time were purported to be sea serpents—of the “many‐humped” or “string‐of‐buoys” typology—actually reveals that marine fauna in the British Isles have been victims of entanglement in fishing gear for a much longer period than is customarily assumed.”
Disappointed it wasn’t a prehistoric creature still roaming the seas today? We should be more upset that these marine entanglements still exist today in unacceptable numbers. In his study in the journal Fish and Fisheries, France shows that these sightings increased at about the same time as fishing crews switched from small rope nets and short lines to stronger, denser and bigger nets and longer lines attached to buoys to predominantly synthetic lines and nets. As Massive Science explains, abandoned or lost rope nets and lines caused marine entanglements, but they were smaller and sometimes easier for the many fish bound together to release themselves fairly quickly. With larger, stronger and eventually synthetic nets, quick release became nearly impossible without intervention, so sightings of long nets wrapped around hundreds of large fish and whales thrashing and dragging buoys could easily be mistaken for sea or lake monsters.
Could marine entanglement explain sea monsters prior to the 1800s? Definitely. Rope nets have been used for centuries (they’re mentioned in the New Testament) and even the ancient ones could tie up fish, dragging logs along with them, and appear to be monsters from afar. Large lakes that report lake monsters also host large fishing industries with large nets and long lines.
What does all of this mean? Perhaps the best advice to come out of France’s study and analysis is that anyone spotting a sea serpent or lake monster should wait before calling a cryptid site and instead notify the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which has an Office of Protected Resources that works with entanglement response and stranding network partners around the country to safely free marine mammals and sea turtles from life-threatening entanglements, along with gathering valuable information that can help reduce the frequency and effects of entanglements in the future.
Entanglement of Marine Life: Risks and Response
Entanglement in fishing gear and marine debris can be dangerous for marine mammals and sea turtles. Learn how NO…
As always seems to be the case, we have met the monster and it is us.
Mysterious Universe (MU)