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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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

LINDSAY SELBY: A Loch Ness blog

People often say to me Why has nothing conclusive been found at Loch Ness? There are lots of reasons. One is that although the Loch is 23 miles long, large parts of it are not viewable because of trees, bushes etc around it and some parts are not easily accessible as to do so means scrambling down very steep banks. I have put on a photo here to show that even in winter it is still not easy to view through the trees.( it is a bit wonky as I was standing on a slope) People who have never visited the Loch often scoff that no one has yet got a decent photo but they don’t realise how difficult a task that is.

Secondly the water is pitch black once you get a few feet down. The water runs off the mountains and down the hillsides surrounding the Loch bringing with it particles of peat which are suspended in Loch , making it inky black with very poor visibility. Many a diver has come up shaken because they didn’t realise how bad visibility was and the thought that something large my be in there with you is scary. This why underwater photos are so blurry. It is also very cold and stays at a constant low temperature all year round, so prolonged time in the water is not recommended.

Exploring the Loch underwater is difficult. It is very deep (some reports say over 800 feet(266 meters) some 940feet( over 300 meters) in parts) and the sides drop away at a very steep angle. In places 50 feet( about 16 metres) from shore the loch drops to hundreds of feet deep. There are no caves in the Loch side as far as we know as the sides will be mainly granite which does not wear away into caves as limestone does. The steep Loch sides mean sonar often bounces off them giving false signals. Then there is the 25 feet(8 metres) layer of silt at the bottom of the Loch, you would not want to get stuck in that. Who knows what lurks with in it or what bones lie there?

Then there is of course money. To do a sophisticated proper investigation would cost a great deal of money. Most researchers are self financing or get small grants from their workplace. Since the 70s no one seems to have come forward to want to invest in looking for Nessie. Most researchers go up to investigate in their holidays from work, very few are able to afford to spend large amounts of time at the Loch. Steve Feltham is the only investigator that seems to be in permanent occupation theses days. There people who research the Loch fauna and flora etc but they are not monster hunters. They look at fish stocks and water quality and so forth. In the 70’s every layby and every turn in the road seemed to produce someone with binoculars and a camera watching the Loch.

Which brings us to Nessie. Nessie is seen as a joke due to all the hoaxes perpetuated over the years and very few scientists want to be involved . It can cost you your job and certainly held back some people’s careers. The fact it is seen as a hoax means many people have closed ranks and no longer report sightings and locals laugh when you ask. They don’t want to be seen as foolish. The number of times I have heard “Well I will tell you if you promise not to write it down or anything. I don’t want reporters round”. (I don’t like to tell them that being dyslexic I memorise the conversations but I don’t write them down. It is something I learned to do at meetings at work because I couldn’t write down notes fast enough. By the time I had decided how to spell something they had moved on to something else lol. These days of course I would record them or take a laptop). Though that has been a huge amount of sightings over the years , when you divide them by the number of years , it is not a lot. Nessie is quite shy.( taking the average figure of 3000 sightings since 1930s ,divided by the number of years ( 80) it is an average of about 40 a year ). If you then weed out the unlikely and definite mistaken identity you are left with about 2 unexplained sightings a year. It is not a lot is it? Then the chances of getting a decent photo are even remoter. Most people on seeing something can’t believe their eyes and by the time they have recovered enough to grab a camera ,it is often too late, the whatever it is, has gone. So the odds are against us all. That is a sample of reasons why I think nothing conclusive has never been found to support the existence or non existence of the Loch Ness creature.

The only answer is large amounts of cash and sophisticated equipment and trained people to operate it and interpret results in an all year round expedition to search the loch thoroughly. So if anyone has won the lottery and has a spare million???

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