Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Friday, May 21, 2010

LINDSAY SELBY: Loch Ness in recent times

With the summer almost upon us, can we expect more sightings to be reported from Loch Ness? The number of sightings of the Loch Ness creatures varies on whose work you read. Some say as little as 2000 sightings since 1930s; some say as many as 4000. Since 2002 I can only find a recorded number of 20 sightings. It may be that people aren’t reporting it any more, of course, or it may just be there are less sightings. Possibly less people are looking for anything; certainly there aren’t the expeditions there used to be. I would have thought with modern technology there would have been more photos people had taken on mobile phones etc. Here are some examples of the sightings:

August 2002: A man travelling on the A82 towards Fort Augustus saw an unknown object going at speed through the water across the loch

February 2002: Two local residents of Dores saw something move quickly from Tor point to the Clansman Hotel. They said that it created a wake and there was definite splashing from the head of whatever the creature was.

June 2003: The captain of local cruise boat The Royal Scot reported seeing a fast moving v-shaped wake on the surface of the loch at 2.10pm. The water was very calm at the time.

May 2003: Local coastguard skipper George Edwards saw a six-foot-long creature surface for about 2-3 minutes close to Urquhart Castle at around 1.00 in the afternoon. He said it was dark grey in colour and had a rough texture to its skin.

August 2004: At 4pm Tom Clegg of Worcestershire saw three dark humps out from the shore between Invermoriston and Fort Augustus. He said there were no boats in the vicinity at the time.

August 2005: Mr Bell and his family from Newcastle watched what they described as the head of a large animal move through the loch at 6pm in the evening.

May 2007: Gordon Holmes of Shipley, Yorkshire, took a video of an unknown creature at 9.50pm from a layby at the north end of the loch.

March 2007: Sidney and Janet Wilson photographed a strange animal from the back of cruise boat near Urquhart Castle.

February 2008: Brenda Ellis from Foyers took four snaps on her mobile phone of a creature moving north in the water near Inverfarigaig on the south side of the loch. She said the creature was black/brown in colour and was moving in the water for 10-15 minutes.

June 2009: Douglas MacDougall spotted a hump in the water near the Clansman Hotel.

I haven’t included them all or all the details, I am sure you can find them on the web. They vary from seeing wakes to seeing creatures. There seems to be a lack of interest in Loch Ness but maybe some media hype (I know of one journalist who is going up there to write a piece. Good Luck with that!) or some good sightings may persuade people to restart another Loch Ness investigation and put the mystery to bed once and for all. At the moment there is no compelling evidence either way. There are people I have spoken to - local people - who know what they saw. These are not people who would tell their stories to the media or even tell many people. Most of these sightings are not recorded anywhere. I respect their privacy. I think they are honest and believe they saw something. On the other hand we have the non-believers; many who were once believers I might add; who deny existence of anything in the loch. I think to deny there has ever been anything in the loch is rather short-sighted of them as no one knows what lies in that 25 feet (8 metres) thick layer of silt at the bottom. I still hope something will be found but suspect it will be much more mundane than the monster people hope for. Like many who have heard the local stories of large eels being caught in the loch years ago (up to 16 feet [5 metres] long ) I suspect that may well be the answer. Mundane or not, I still would like the answer!

GLEN VAUDREY: Wildcat on Mull

I came across a report of the sighting of a Scottish wild cat on the BBC Scotland website http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/8657470.stm on 2nd May. According to the article there are around 400 pure wildcats and 3,500 hybrid wild cats believed to be in Scotland. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would suggest that these are only a part of the cat population.

Remarkably enough, Mull, off the west coast of Scotland, despite being an island with no fixed link to the Scottish mainland, has a track record of mystery big cat sightings, which I look at in my book, The Mystery Animals of the Western Isles.

Yes, it seems that even the sleepy island of Mull hasn’t failed to follow the rest of the country in reports of big cats, with the first sighting taking place in 1978 and the last reported sighting of a similar animal taking place fairly recently, one sighting being at Craignure, which just happens to be the location of Mull’s main ferry terminal.

How the big cats got to Mull might seem like a mystery. It has been suggested that the wildcat swam to the island as it was unlikely to have been prepared to travel on the Calmac ferry (I don’t know why not; as Scottish coastal ferry journeys go, it’s not that bad a trip).


In the 1850s Mr William Brown, a wealthy Liverpool merchant banker, provided the land and finance, in exchange for having the road on which the building would stand named after himself, to enable the building of a beautiful neo-classic building that would house Liverpool’s largest collection of antiquities and wonders of the natural world. With the exception of the re-building that followed the ravages of World War II, the building and its contents remained much the same until dramatic improvements at the start of this century, which closed the building for a number of months, doubled the amount of display space and created a beautiful new atrium that was first opened to the public in 2005. It was at this point that the title World Museum was used for the first time.
The impressive neo-classical building that houses the World Museum

In March 2010 Sue and I paid our first visit to this wonderful place, one of the best ‘free days out’ in the U.K., since the building was re-opened. The galleries, spread over several floors, are truly amazing and house, amongst many other things, the biggest collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts outside of Cairo, a U.K. Commonwealth collection that is stunning, natural history presentations that include ‘living bugs’ and plants, beautifully crafted biotopes from the age of taxidermy, fossils and a planetarium. All of the floors are easily accessed by either lift or stairs and have their own educational and toilet facilities.

However, for the purpose of this article, we will concentrate on the public aquarium display situated on the first floor and dedicated to native and tropical marine life. To show the various aquarium displays, which vary greatly in size and shape, to their full advantage, much of the display area, but not the aquariums themselves, is dimly lit and gives you the impression that you are in a cavern (perhaps this is a reminder that the smaller aquarium, which then housed tropical freshwater fish and goldfish as well, we had first visited here was housed in the basement). Everywhere there are excellent information boards and loose-leaf books that contain information about the various themes and creatures on display.

The impressive aquarium is a mixture of living and information displays.

As you enter the aquarium you find yourself standing next to a large cubed aquarium that is home to ‘tropical predators’ and here you can view lyretail grouper and various lionfish. Moving on brings you to a wall in which three large and one small aquaria are home to tropical marine fish from the Indo-Pacific region. The displays, the quality and variety of fish (from young Clownfish through to large Bannerfish) on show and the clarity of the water etc. can only be described as ‘stunning.’

One of the amazing Indo-Pacific displays.

Next come eleven displays classed as ‘local rocky shores.’ Here you can see the wonders of local marine life. Magnifying equipment allows you to look at creatures as varied as sea bullheads, stone king crabs and common starfish in great detail.

On now to a larger display in which kelp is used as a background, in order to show just how glorious the colours of our native Wrasse are.

If I had to choose a highlight of the displays then for me it would be the large brackish display that had me speechless: a beautifully themed aquarium that is home to variously coloured Scats, Fingerfish and Archerfish, all of which are a living picture of health. The loving way in which all of the fish here are cared for is obvious. Thankfully, you can sit on a well-placed couch and just watch the activity and inter-actions that go on in the aquarium.

The displays conclude with four large aquaria dedicated to life found around Anglesey. Of course no such aquaria would be complete without a display of Thornback Rays, while the Abyss houses some amazing Lumpfish.

Rays are popular native marine fish

Much thought and planning has gone into the aquarium at the World Museum. As you will already have guessed I was impressed by the displays and thoroughly enjoyed the time spent here.

What you require for a visit to the World Museum is a great deal of time. You can see everything in one day (as we did) but to see everything in detail you would, in all honesty, need a week.


The picture on the left was sent by Matt Williams, and it reminded me irrisitibly of the 1967 debut LP by Elephant's Memory, which was by far the best thing that they did, and hardly anyone has ever heard of.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1980 Namco released Pac-Man.

And now, the news:

Bizarre 'corpse' reminiscent of Montauk monster
Nursery of giant extinct sharks
Viagra Donations Sought for Dog

I could make a really ‘dog’-dgey pun at this point …