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The Loch Ness Underwater Photographic Evidence

All of the underwater photographs which are part of the Loch Ness story were obtained by the Academy of Applied Science of Concord, New Hampshire. The 1972 pictures were obtained in conjunction with the Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau. The 1975 pictures were obtained independently by them.

If you have arrived at this section of my site before reading the section on sonar contacts then I would strongly recommend that you return to the sonar section and fully understand what is said there under the Academy of Applied Science. Without a grasp of the sonar results obtained in 1972 then you will not fully understand what is said here about the flipper pictures.

From this point on I shall assume that the reader has read the sonar section and understood the points made there.

Sadly, in the sonar section on the Academy of Applied Science, I demonstrated, beyond reasonable doubt, that the Academy 1972 sonar trace is completely irrelevant. Direct link to Academy Sonar Contacts.

The 1972 Loch Ness Underwater Photographs

Dr Rines always made a great deal out of the fact that the 1972 evidence comprised two scientific practices each complementing each other ... in his words "checking on each other". We have already seen that the sonar part of the evidence is completely worthless in any scientific sense, so the following quote from a TV interview of Dr Rines becomes absolutely fascinating. He is talking about the famous flipper picture :

"... this picture we enhanced and it shows a flipper some two to three feet across and six to eight feet long at exactly the time there was a ten foot appendage recorded by the sonar."

Is it not remarkable that the picture and "appendage" trace coincided? Does this not prove, after all, that the sonar trace was real?

Let us first look at the "coinciding" aspect. In fact the sonar was not linked to the cameras in any way, the elapse-time mechanism was erratic, there were no records kept of the number of frames which would have been exposed to coincide with the sonar trace. There is no way of knowing how the number of frames was checked or whether the start time is even known. Where is ANY of the necessary scientific data, where are the notes which should have been kept. Pure unadulterated pseudo-science. Finally, we know that the "appendage" trace is not part of an animal anyway because a ten foot flipper could not possibly appear on sonar in the way shown.

It now becomes even more amazing that the sonar trace of not the appendage of not an animal coincides, according to Dr Rines with the enhanced picture of what is the quite obvious flipper of an animal. How incredible, how amazing ... no, I believe "incredible" is exactly the right word. Something is obviously very wrong somewhere.

To proceed we must completely ignore the 1972 sonar chart as it has nothing to do with the pictures or Nessie in general. Direct link to Academy Sonar Contacts. It was just a bad piece of science which caused a red herring which continues to this day. Dr Rines, as a sonar scientist should have nothing to do with it and should consider the implications of the way he has promoted it.

If the chart has nothing to do with the pictures, then the 1972 pictures must stand or fall on their own merits.

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Above you can see two of the unenhanced pictures provided by the Academy for me when I was setting up the Loch Ness Monster Exhibition in 1980. It is immediately apparent that they are different colours. Although this is just due to a flaw in whatever copying system or company was used, it demonstrates the typical sloppiness of the Academy. After all, these were provided for a major exhibition on the subject and should certainly have been first copies from the back-ups of the originals.

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Both of these pictures are supposed to have been taken while the sonar showed a large appendage but, as we are now discounting the sonar, they must stand alone. Nothing the Academy says or does can be guaranteed to be accurate, and so, when they say that these were adjacent frames from the elapse-time camera used in Loch Ness, we cannot be sure that they were taken at the same time, taken during the expedition or even taken at Loch Ness at all.


The Academy claim to have passed the original pictures to Gillespie at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena to be computer-enhanced. This was duly done and the enhancements returned.

However, the enhancements produced by JPL are coarse grainy pictures. The one on the right is the genuine article and is the JPL enhancement of the lower picture above. I have shown it inverted as the print produced by JPL was in reverse and I believe that it is important to see all the images the same way around.

By what miracle, therefore, did this picture change into the so-called "computer-enhanced flipper picture" which Dr Rines gave to me for the Loch Ness Exhibition, shown below.

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Ricky Razdan and Alan Keilar of the Iscan Project spoke to Gillespie at JPL and he said that this picture of a flipper bears no resemblance to the computer enhancement he produced ... something which I think is very obvious from looking at them both on this page. Something must have happened to the actual computer enhancement in order for it to become as unambiguous as it now appears.

At a tense meeting at the Official Loch Ness Exhibition Centre between Dr Rines, Adrian Shine and myself, Adrian quizzed him about the sequence of events regarding the flipper pictures. Dr Rines admitted that the picture shown here may have been retouched by some magazine editor and the retouched version returned to the Academy.

However, Charles Wyckoff said that he had made a composite enhancement himself by superimposing several enhancements over the original picture. Again the total sloppiness of the Academy and its cavalier attitude to scientific practices comes to the fore.  It must be remembered that it was Dr Rines who provided the picture shown above left for the exhibition I was staging without any comment about the possibility of it being retouched.

He still allows this fake, for let's call it what it is, to be reproduced and it even formed the frontispiece of his prospectus for his expedition in 2007. Why does he do this? Why admit it is faked in the eighties and continue to use it as if it is genuine in the nineties and naughties?

The fact of the matter is that the only evidence we actually have is the unenhanced picture, top right, and the course grainy computer scan above right. Any procedures involving blending of numerous enhancements with original pictures must be considered totally unscientific and invalid.

As regards the picture which shows the graceful flipper of the Loch Ness Monster above, just look closely and you can see the brush marks along the leading edge. Finally, if you click here you will see a larger version of the actual NASA enhancement of the flipper with more definition than the compressed version above.

If you look at it objectively or ask a third party to look at it who does not know what you are reading, you will find that they will think it is of some rocks, a lava field, the moon, an asteroid or some lumps of "something". The odd person well versed in ink-spot analysis may see a sheep and the highly imaginative mind may see a giant octopus. (A marine invertebrate could not exist in Loch Ness as it is fresh water and large invertebrates could not make the transition. Only 15,000 years ago, of course, it was a solid block of ice so no freshwater invertebrate could have evolved in such a short space of time in case anyone starts considering a new species of freshwater octopus as a serious possibility.)

Other than those, I have failed to find a single person who can see anything animate in the NASA enhancement of the famous flipper picture. Now tell the person it is the picture of a lake bed and they will exhibit no surprise whatsoever.

Just perhaps, then, it is not a picture of the Loch Ness Monster but a picture of the bottom of Loch Ness taken because the cameras had been mounted upon, now just wait for this scientific gem, a caravan (trailer) step and occasionally rocked forward, just perhaps, being tugged as boat wakes moved the boat moored above and, just perhaps, created a sonar trace in the process. But only "just perhaps". Maybe Nessie can camouflage itself as the loch-bed ... a far more pseudo-scientific solution indeed.

I still hope that, one day, the aging Dr Rines may publicly acknowledge these twenty year old errors as being exactly that - errors.  There is no crime in being wrong and great respect can come from admitting one's mistakes.

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The 1975 Underwater Photographs

The next great fiasco of the Academy was in 1975. Sonar-triggered cameras had been brought to the loch and mounted on the bottom. None of the film exposed by them showed anything other than clouds of silt which Rines implied had been stirred up by the large unidentified animals which had caused the sonar to be triggered in the first place. There may have been a more logical explanation as we shall see shortly. This picture shows Rines lowering equipment from the support boat Hunter during a later seventies' expedition.

The old Edgerton elapse-time camera and strobe had been brought along on the 1975 expedition as an "old faithful" back-up. It was mounted 40 feet beneath a boat which, as can be seen from the diagram, was 1975diag.jpg - 22.2 Kmoored in 80 feet of water. Anything photographed by this unit, therefore, must be in mid-water. As logs and other types of debris do not move around in mid-water in Loch Ness (except rarely in temperature layers), the Academy could be pretty confident that anything photographed would be alive. A number of photographs were obtained. The first of these, encountered on play-back by Charlie Wyckoff, was described by him as "like the surface of the moon". An interesting description of what should only be part of an animal.

Two of the pictures obtained were described as like the body and neck (below left) and gargoyle head (below right) of a large unknown animal. These pictures were hawked around various scientists who were given the details of the experiment and were therefore under the impression that the objects must be in mid-water and, as inanimate objects do not move around in mid-water in Loch Ness, probably alive.

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Given those circumstances and the aura of credibility which Rines exudes, it is not unexpected that scientists and naturalists like George Zug of the Smithsonian and Sir Peter Scott of the, then, World Wildlife Fund were prepared to say that they could see Loch Ness Monsters within the pictures. Again Rines, pseudo-science as his ally, found various persons who were prepared to see things like bi-lateral symmetry in the gargoyle head picture, yet the head was not square-on to the camera and any symmetry had, therefore, to be wholly imaginary. A human face exhibits bi-lateral symmetry only when it looks directly at you. The symmetry is either side of a line which runs down from the top of the head, between the eyes, down the centre of the nose and through the chin and Adam's apple. If, however, a human face is looking to the right or left the symmetry disappears and we can only guess that there is another eye on the far side of the nose and an ear, cheek, sideburn etc. With a human it is easy because we know what to expect and with any obviously living animal we can make similar assumptions. They are, nevertheless, only assumptions and they cannot be applied to ambiguous subjects such as the gargoyle head picture.  Dr Rines was always promoting this bilateral symmetry of the head picture erroneously. 

What is really quite incredible is that Rines and his ilk seem to see monster-like characteristics in all of their pictures, but never notice un-monster-like characteristics. Just look at the body and neck picture ... yes there is a vaguely neck-like object and a protrusion more or less where you might find a flipper, but what about the lump on the "chest" area (referred to as "pendulous breasts" by one of the academy team.), the log-like appearance of the skin texture and the mass of sediment in the bottom left. Finally, when you really LOOK at the picture it is obviously not an animal. Seeing plesiosaurs is nothing but wishful thinking.

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As regards the gargoyle head, there is nothing in it which is similar to the head on the long neck or any eye-witness account. I have never been able to see anything but a lump of wood in this picture, but how could this be? The cameras were in mid-water and logs do not float around there.

The answer, of course, is actually plain for all to see. Look at the diagram again. What happens if the wind blows from the right? The boat swings around on its mooring and the cameras move up to a hundred and fifty feet closer to shore depending on the slack in the mooring line. Loch Ness shelves very steeply and the cameras would be rolling around on the bottom.

On one occasion when Dick Raynor was changing film, he noticed that the rope was slack, so the cameras must have been resting on the bottom on at least that one occasion. Possibly, as the cameras swung around they may even have triggered the sonar on the other rig and stirred up the silt ... not the monster after all, but that would be just speculation.

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In 1987, during Operation Deepscan, with Dick Raynor's help, the Loch Ness Project set out to find the gargoyle head. A video camera was lowered onto a tree stump and this is one of the frames. Eventually the stump was lifted and conclusively shown to be the same object as the gargoyle head.

I am showing here one of the stills from the video so the match is not exact, but it is close enough to prove the point beyond the reasonable doubt of any reasonable person.

So, the cameras were certainly rolling around on the bottom and all of the pictures are therefore likely to be debris. Pictures of the bottom of the boat which interspersed the others, Rines described as being evidence that the monster was attacking the cameras and tossing them around. Surely far simpler that the cameras were clicking away as they rolled around on the bottom ... but that is not a very pseudo-scientific suggestion, is it?

Sadly, George Zug of the Smithsonian and Sir Peter Scott were unaware of the poor experimental set-up which permitted the cameras to come inshore, so their belief that the pictures could be showing animals, is explained. The sloppy, inaccurate, poorly controlled work of the Academy has nothing to offer at Loch Ness unless it changes its ways.

In 1998 they were back again among rumours of recently declassified US sonar which is capable of detecting a submarine at a distance of thousands of miles. If a passive device then the results could be interesting, if an active device such power will inter-reflect so much in the loch that it is sure to be completely useless and will just create spurious contacts to cause yet more confusion and more ambiguity. The resulting Nova documentary was actually quite well done. I hear they will be back again in the future and await this with baited breath.

I used to wonder if Dr Rines was just carrying out some sort of psychological experiment here to find out how many senior scientists could be suckered by nonsense. If so he would have already proven his case. I cannot believe that that is still his objective because, when one has achieved one's objective, there is no need to do it again. Let me caution the world's scientists, therefore, to beware Rines bearing pics and charts.

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When I first discovered that I had been made a fool of by the Academy it seemed as if the world had come to an end for it was their evidence which had so impressed me. Fortunately, just a year or two later I had my one and only sighting of something in the loch, but an era had ended. Nessie could no longer be considered to be a plesiosaur for all of that type of evidence was finally just as extinct.

Rines has provided us all with nearly three decades of the peaks and troughs of monster hunting excitement, but he should have known better than to promote material which was, at best, misleading. He may well be, forever condemned to be categorised with Wetherell ... the only difference being that Wetherell knew he was a practical joker, Rines, apparently, does not!

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