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Sunday, June 13, 2010

LINDSAY SELBY: Loch Hourn monster

Loch Hourn runs inland from the sea opposite the island of Skye. Sometimes described as the most fjord-like of the sea lochs of Scotland. It is open to the sea, which is important to remember when looking at explanations for sightings in the loch. Hourn is Gaelic for Hell, and the Loch is so named because of the spin drifts, which capsized many sailing boats. Quite a few lives have been lost on the loch. Around a hundred years ago Loch Hourn was busy with small boats fishing for herrings.

Most people will have heard of the famous sea serpent sighting in the loch that was reported in The Zoologist. According to R. T. Gould in August 20 and 21 of 1872 6 people on board the cutter Leda saw the creature described as a line of black humps with a head and neck occasionally seen above the surface on the loch. The estimates of its length varied between 45 feet (15 metres)and 60 feet (20 metres) in length. A Mr G. Bogle, also a passenger on the cutter, made sketches, which are shown in Gould's book. (The Loch Ness Monster 1934)

Here is an extract from the statement in The Zoologist:

Norwegian Sea-serpent, on the Western Coast of Scotland, in August 1872, by the Rev. John McRae, Minister of Glenelg, Invernessshire, and the Rev. David Twopeny, Vicar of Stockbury, Kent. On the 20th of August 1872 we started from Glenelg in a small cutter, the Leda, for an excursion to Lochourn. Its only exit in this direction to the north was by the narrow Strait of Kylerhea, dividing Skye from the mainland, and only a third of a mile wide, and we left our boat, wondering whether this strange creature had gone that way or turned back again to the south. We have only to add to this narrative of what we saw ourselves, the following instances of its being seen by other people, of the correctness of which we have no doubt. The ferrymen on each side of Kylerhea saw it pass rapidly through on the evening of the 21st, and heard the rush of the water; they were surprised, and thought it might be a shoal of porpoises, but could not comprehend their going so quickly. Finlay McRae, of Bundaloch, in the parish of Kintail, was within the mouth of Lochourn on the 21st, with other men in his boat, and saw the creature at about the distance of one hundred and fifty yards. Two days after we saw it, Alexander Macmillan, boat-builder at Dornie, was fishing in a boat in the entrance of Lochduich, half-way between Druidag and Castledonan, when he saw the animal, near enough to hear the noise, and see the ripple it made in rushing along in the sea. He says that what seemed its head was followed by four or more lumps, or "half-rounds," as he calls them, and that they sometimes rose and sometimes sank altogether. He estimated its length at not less than between sixty and eighty feet. He saw it also on two subsequent days in Lochduich. On all these occasions his brother, Farquhar, was with him in the boat, and they were both much alarmed, and pulled to the shore in great haste. A lady at Duisdale, in Skye, a place overlooking the part of the Sound which is opposite the opening of Lochourn, said that she was looking out with a glass when she saw a strange object on the sea, which appeared like eight seals in a row. This was just about the time that we saw it. We were also informed that about the same time it was seen from the island of Eigg, between Eigg and the mainland, about twenty miles to the south-west of the opening of Lochourn. We have not permission to mention the names in these two last instances.


The full article is here : http://cryptozoo-oscity.blogspot.com/2010/02/sea-serpent-sighting-reported-in.html

It was dismissed by some as wave formations and seals etc. However, then I came across this:

(In the 1950’s )Willie MacKenzie was 9 years of age when he was sitting on a small knoll, near the sea, waiting for his father, to return from delivering the mail, by boat. The head of a creature, that could only be described as a big eel or a serpent emerged, ten feet out of the water, moving its head from side to side, about 250 yards in front of him. Willie had to be forced back in the boat to go home, and to this day, his heart still races when he crosses that part of the Loch. It was suspected that Rob Foster, a fisherman from Corran also saw the monster, around this time. As he refused to go out in the boat, and never went further than the edge of the shore. At this time, there were also sightings of the monster in Sandaig, by the MacDiarmids'.

Source: http://www.glenelg.co.uk/places/arnisdale.shtml

So it appears that the sea serpent/ creature made other appearances in Loch Hourn. Interesting, especially as local people would recognise seals, porpoises etc having seen them before. The fact that some would not go on the loch again shows they believed they saw something that scared them and it was not a known creature to the locality.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gould's book Loch Ness Monster and Others has a drawing of the Loch Hourn creature which clearly shows the humps are merely waves in the wake The sketch you mention is figure 44, in the appendix on p.217and I have reproduced it in an earlier blog entry. And several of the witnesses clearly state that they did not take the humps to be structural objects (ie, they were fluid and temporary appearances of humps rather than actually being solid humps).

However the Long-necked creature seen separately is a valuable and probably valid report and I do not think it could be a long-necked seal with an eel-shaped head (same argument goes for Grant's land sighting of the Loch Ness Monster) As to whether an unknown animal COULD have been making the wake observed by the Revs. McRae and Twopenny-it is entirely possible, but you see the problem is that the observation of the waves in the wake tell us absolutely nothing about the shape or nature of the submerged creature making the wake. So as far as purposes of identification go, ALL such observations are valueless.