James May & the shark that never was

thumb shark

James May should be in my bad books right now, but the fact that he is responsible for the Skegness Sea Monster is both baffling and beautiful at the same time. You couldn’t make it up… unless you are May, in which case you probably already have. James May is best known for his presenting role on the Television Show ‘Top Gear’, but he also hosts a show called ‘Man Lab’ in which he ‘helps modern man relearn some vital skills that are in danger of being lost.‘ Such as faking Lake Monsters. What? Bear with me…

In August of 2012 many news sources reported on video footage (which you can view below) that was captured from Skegness beach by alleged tourists. Many – including me – concluded that it was a basking shark, because that seemed the most sensible option. The Daily Mail quoted Senior biologist Marcus Williams from the National Aquarium in Portsmouth as suggesting it could be two sharks feeding together.

He was wrong however, as during this weeks episode of ‘Man Lab’ James May revealed that it was a hoax perpetrated by the cast and crew of the show in a bid to boost the resort’s economy by giving it a monster to rival Loch Ness’ Nessie. A hoax that they didn’t think had worked after things went wrong and the fake monster lost its head. May said

“It was a devastating turn of events [when Susan’s head fell off]. With Susan lost to Davy Jones our hopes of a monster-led Skegness-related economic miracle seemed sunk without trace. And that seemed to be the end of that; but actually, it wasn’t, you see, in a heart-felt tribute to our tragically lost monster one of our beach crew decided to upload the only existing footage we had of Susan in action; shortly before her head fell off. The crew weren’t prepared and, as a result, the footage was shaky, blurry and indistinct. In short, it was perfect. Slowly views started to increase and before we knew it was well into the hundreds… and then we hit the headlines. The local Skegness paper picked up on the story and suddenly Susan was front-page news. The views leaped into the thousands.”

He added that other websites started linking to their video of Susan and, after the nationals picked up on the story, the monster went global, with news organisations and websites across the planet covering the tale.

“What we had just about written off as a colossal failure had somehow become one of the biggest successes we have had on Man Lab,” [source]

So we were wrong and it wasn’t basking sharks at all, but instead a headless fake monster. Is it bad that the majority of people reached the wrong conclusion? I don’t think so. It’s how a rational mind should work because the logical solution to the question of ‘what is that?’ in this case is that it’s either something misplaced in the later (a log, for example) or it’s an animal you’d expect to see in the water – such as a basking shark. To not cry “HOAX!” when there’s no evidence of a hoax is a good thing, I think.

So James May isn’t quite in my bad books yet because I think this is a lovely monster story, however if it turns out he’s been anywhere near Windermere with his sodding fake monster then things might change…

head of skeggy
The monster used by the show being tested in a pool

h/t to Mike Hall & Shaun Sellars for this story.

Revisiting Bownessie

In my initial article considering the case of the “Bownessie” lake monster in detail, I concluded that I felt that the most likely cause for the various sightings of the monster was simple misidentification of fish, objects and other animals in the lake.

After I published my article online I received feedback from one of the eyewitnesses, Linden Adams, who took the first photo that allegedly shows the monster in the lake. His feedback stated:

Firstly my photographs were exstensivley [sic] studied by professional forensic photographers including Canon UK. The size and distance of the object was calulated [sic] by forensic’s [sic] and in the presence of Dr Winfield so you have been mislead yourself. Please read statement signed by Dr Ian Winfield clearly stated he was happy with the size and distance. As for large Pike or Otter then may I suggest a trip to the sumit [sic] of Gummer’s Howe with a copy of my images to give you scale. You have failed to mention that Deer are known to swim the lake to find a richer feeding area, like so many publications on this subject it’s incomplete. It is however one of the better articles but can’t understand why you spoke to a strange man from CFZ and didn’t speak to Mark Carr forensic photographer.

Credit: Linden Adams

For more photos click here (and scroll down to the bottom of the page)

I should point out that the reason I spoke to Jon Downes from the CFZ (the strange man who Adams mentions) and not Mark Carr was because I didn’t know Mark Carr was involved in the case at all. I am, after all, not psychic and unless people are completely transparent about their research or involvement in a case like this, it would be impossible to know all the facts. Especially as Dean Maynard refused to share his research with me, that may have brought up Mark Carr’s involvement.

I was interested to find out more about the statement from Ian Winfield, whom I had spoken to before, and so I contacted Ian and he agreed that he had indeed made a statement, as had Jon Downes it appeared. The statements were later forwarded onto me by Linden Adams and are as follows:

“I have viewed a series of photographs taken by Mr Linden Adams on the 5th February 2007. Having spoken at length to Mr Marc Carr of IE PHOTOGRAPHY of Hawlshead, I am satisfied that:

1. The images have not been tampered with in any way. The images in the photographs are exactly what Mr Adams saw.

2. Although the fact that the camera was not fixed to a tripod makes it impossible to be sure, the empirical evidence suggests that the object is moving fast enough to cause a bow wave.

3. There appears to be a solid object 12-15 feet in length that is leaving a wake of about thirty feet.

Having compared these images with well known images purporting to be those of cryptids, these images, especially – according to Mark Carr – when one considers the forensic evidence contained within the images in terms of time codes etc., these images provide better evidence for the existence of a large animal in the lake than – say – the famous 1963 Tim Dinsdale film taken at Loch Ness.

Logic suggests that the object in the picture is animate. It appears to be far too large to be any known mammal or bird, and therefore I would suggest that it is a huge fish of indeterminate species. This is in line with other evidence collected by the CFZ in recent years, and we are very excited with this latest piece of evidence” – Jonathan Downes

.

Hi Linden

It was good to meet you in person this morning and to examine, in the presence of forensic photographer Mark Carr, your photographs taken at the south basin of Windermere on the morning of Monday 5 February 2007.

It is my understanding that Mark’s judgement is that the source of the observed disturbance of the water surface is a moving object, with several of the photographs showing both a part of the object itself (with the remainder being underwater) and a generated wake or other disturbance on the water surface.

As I have mentioned in earlier discussions, in my opinion identification of the object hinges on its size. This morning, Mark clarified this issue by informing me that his current best conservative estimate of the minimum length of the visible part of the object is approximately12 feet, which I convert to approximately 3.5 m.

On the basis of my 27 years experience as a professional freshwater fish ecologist, including leading research programmes on Windermere for the last 17 years and intermittent research on waterfowl, this size estimate means that I cannot explain the photographs by reference to any fish or other vertebrate species previously demonstrated to inhabit Windermere.
Best wishes, Ian J Winfield –  BSc PhD MIFM CEnv

I also got in touch with Mark Carr, the forensic photographer in question because I’m always willing to consider all possibilities and I like to gather all the information I can about a case and the research conducted into it prior to my involvement.

Mark got back in touch to tell me that after examining the photos and explained:

I was asked to illicit if the image had been altered digitally and what it may be in terms of size etc.  The series of images were not conclusive as to what the object was BUT based on my research and analysis I would say the photographs had not been altered electronically, the object appeared to be solid and   in respect of length was at least 12-14 feet ( c4 m) though could possibly be longer. I have no expertise or ability from the quality of the images to determine what the object was.

I was also sent these two images by Linden Adams that were apparently used by Mark Carr to determine the size of the anomaly that Adams photographed.

Linden Adams promised to send me the full report from Mark Carr but this has yet to appear over a month later. However, in an extract from his photography blog:

As the photographs were taken on a professional Canon camera and shot in camera Raw format as appose to Jpeg it would be easy to get the images validated so I sent them off to Canon UK. A letter came back supporting the validation and future equipment support, next was a forensic report to uncover other information like size and location. Mark Carr an independent forensic photographer spent three days analysing the memory card and was ultimately satisfied that I had genuine images.

Here are a few extracts from his report,

 ON a number of the images (particularly 48) there was a darker patch of pixels contained in the anomaly. It was not possible to resolve this any further (in part due to camera shake and in part due to the distance the anomaly was away from the camera). This effect could be due to their being a solid object. I would estimate this darker patch to be as much as 4m in length on shot 48.

In conclusion, based on the information I have been given and the checks I have so far been able to carry out I am satisfied of the following:

  1. The images I have seen have not been digitally modified or are the result of a camera or lens error.
  2. The position of the anomaly was around 2.8 to3 km away from the camera.
  3. The anomaly was approximately 150-200m off shore from the northern most boat house.
  4. The overall anomaly is at least 15m in length.
  5. The darker area observed is at least 4m

This is all very interesting and it’s good to see that such thorough investigation of the photos has been carried out, however without the originals, and without the full report from Mark Carr it is impossible to verify any of this information, which members of BARsoc are very keen to do.

The sharing of this research has also not swayed me away from my original conclusion that what has been reported on numerous occasions by eyewitnesses is most likely to be misidentification of fish, animals or other objects around the lake area.

The anomaly captured by Adams, for example, could easily be a bird coming in to land on the water and creating a wake behind it – thus causing such a large anomaly. Or perhaps even a log or stone emerging from beneath the water, causing the same effect – an effect that Ian Winfield told me on the phone could be the cause of many odd sightings in the lake.

I accept that there is a large oddity in a photograph taken by Linden Adams, and I accept that this has been verified as true and not tampered with. However, this does nothing to prove that the “Bownessie” sightings are some sort of strange creature living in the lake, which is unlikely for reasons pointed out in my initial article examining the case.

To suggest that this photo is proof of a lake monster in the lake is a leap of logic. It would be as easy to suggest that the oddity in the photograph taken by Linden Adams is an alien, but unless I have the proof to back up that statement I would be making wild speculations based on no evidence. The burden of proof, as always, lays with those making such claims, and no evidence has been provided.

I am, by all means, willing to accept that there could be some sort of creature in the lake, but all research I have done into this, suggests a much more mundane conclusion for what is being seen by people. If someone, such as Dean Maynard or Linden Adams can provide evidence that suggests otherwise – without making logical fallacies in the process of doing so, then I’m all ears.

A monster, an odd photo does not make…

With thanks to Mark Carr and Ian Winfield for their help. 

The Windermere Lake Monster

bowness trimmed

Introduction

My interest in the Bownessie Lake Monster case began when the news broke that kayaker, Tom Pickles, has allegedly taken a photograph of the monster. It was the latest in a whole series of sightings and investigations into the monster. I wrote an article for the British Anomalistic Research Society website exploring the story behind the photo and concluded that it was probably a tire in the water.

After my research into the photograph I became interested in the sightings previous to the Tom Pickles sighting, as well as the investigations conducted in Windermere by the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) as well as the ones conducted by self-proclaimed psychic, Dean Maynard.

A brief time line of the Bowness sightings

Sighting one

When: 23rd July 2006 (between midday and 1pm)
Who:
Steve & Elaine Burnip from Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire.
Where:
Standing at Watbarrow point, near Wrap Castle (North end of West Shore)
What:
Saw 3 humps breaking the water, travelling in a straight line. One hump was described as a head. Burnip comments that it wasn’t a wave or boat wake, that it looked like a giant eel and was twenty-foot long. He also said it was faster than a rowing boat, but not as fast as a motor boat.

According to Jon Downes from the CFZ, Steve managed to get a photo of what they saw, it is poor quality but shows ‘grey humps’ in the water. Steve Burnip is very reluctant to hand this photo to the press.

“He showed us the original of the photograph he had taken, still on his digital camera, and zoomed in. What had been merely discolouration in the water on the version that had been rather badly reproduced by the Westmorland Gazette, were actually what appeared to be quite sizeable humps. We hope that as time goes by we shall be able to persuade Steve to let us have a copy for our own use.”  – Jon Downes

You can watch a video here of Steve Burnip explaining his encounter to local press.

Sighting two

When: July 2006
Who:
Mr & Mrs Gaskell
Where:
Cruising near Ambleside at the North end of the lake
What:
Saw a large animal jumping in the wake of their vessel which looked like a seal or dolphin without the fin, leaving a large wake and ripples.”

Around this time the local press had contacted the CFZ after reading about their ‘giant catfish’ research from 2002. They asked the CFZ is they could shed any light on the supposed monster. An appeal was put out in the local newspaper/s for witnesses to come forward and in the following month six more did so, including one from the 1950’s and 1980’s.

Sighting three

When: February 2007
Who:
Linden Adams
Where:
Windermere area
What: Local photographer, Adams, was walking in the area with his wife when he spotted an oddity in the water of the lake. He said it appeared to be 50 foot long, when compared to boats nearby. Adams took a photo of the object that was then published in numerous papers. Read more here.

Sighting four

When: July 2007
Who:
Crew of a boat (unidentified)
Where:
North end of the lake
What:
A yatch was moored at the North end of the lake when something banged into the side of the boat, causing it to rock. This was described as a ‘Jaws Style attack’ in the local press. Read about it here.

2008 – no sightings or reports on record that can be found.

Sighting Five

When: July 24th 2009
Who:
Thomas Noblett (managing director of The Langdale Chase Hotel)
Where:
Lake Windermere
What:
Noblett was swimming close to Wray Castle at 7am on the Wednesday morning when the 3 foot swell hit. He and swimming trainer Andrew Tighe – paddling in a boat beside him – were the only people on the lake. Read about it here.

Sighting Six

When: February 11th 2011 at 10:35am
Who:
Tom Pickles & Sarah Harrington
Where:
Windermere
What:
Tom Pickles, 24, and fellow kayaker Sarah Harrington, 23, paddled 300m out onto Windermere lake near Belle Isle when they spotted a mysterious creature the size of three cars gliding across the lake. A photo was taken on Tom Pickles’ mobile phone and then published in numerous newspapers. The story was reported here. I wrote an article examining the photo here.

Sighting Seven

When: February 16th 2011    
Who:
Brian and June Arton from Hovingham, North Yorkshire
Where: Beech Hill Hotel off Newby Bridge Road 
What:
Brian said: “We’d just checked into our hotel room at around 4pm when I opened the veranda doors and saw something about 300 yards away in the middle of the lake. I joked to my wife: ‘There’s the Loch Ness monster’ as it had humps but I thought it had to be a pontoon or a very strange shaped buoy.” Read about it here.

The Expeditions

Expedition one

When: October 11th 2006
Who: The CFZ dispatch a research team made up of: Jonathan Downes, Richard Freeman, Mark North, Lisa Dowley, Corinna James, with guests Jon Ronson, Laura (a producer from Radio 4), and Dominic, a cameraman from The Guardian.
Where:
Windermere
What: “
The main point of this three-day expedition was to meet the eyewitnesses, suss out the lie of the land, and – as far as the diving was concerned – carry out something of a dress rehearsal.” You can read a full summary here.

Expedition two:

The CFZ returned to the area in July 2007, but this time were over the western hills in Coniston, searching for giant eels following on from their original trip in 2006.

Expedition three

When: 19th & 20th 2009
Who:
Dean Maynard
Where: Windermere details of the expedition)
What:
Dean Maynard conducted an expedition to the lake. Dean was joined by ‘Bownessie’ witnesses Thomas Noblett, Linden Adams and Andrew Tighe. You can read a brief outline of the expedition – with all the associated press – here.

Expedition four

When: September 1th & 12th 2010
Who:
Dean Maynard
Where:
Windermere
What:
second expedition with no results other than media coverage. Read more here.

My research into the Windermere lake monster

It seemed to me that Dean Maynard is of the opinion that the sightings were caused by a paranormal creature. The little detail on his website suggested that he and his crew were aiming to find proof that a monster existed in the lake and because of this their research was biased from the start – especially as numerous key eye-witnesses were involved in the research.

I emailed Dean via his PA, Debra Moyce, to ask for a copy of the reports from his expeditions at the lake to see if I could get a general understanding of what claims were investigated and how, but in an email from Debra I was told:

“I have spoken to Dean about your request and have to inform you that due to discussions being held with a third-party we are unable to give you this information at the moment as it may be used during the publishing of a book later on in the year.”

I emailed back to explain that I didn’t necessarily need all the details, just information about the claims researched and the methods used, but I am still to see a reply.

It’s a shame when researchers do not share their findings with others, and because of the lack of details about his research that is outweighed by the amount of press coverage he received, I cannot help but feel that Maynard’s research was a publicity stunt. Especially as when he announced his expedition in 2009 there had been no reported sightings for over a year.

The most intriguing result of the Maynard expedition was some footage filmed by John McKeown of Lakes TV who had been filming shots of the lake for a documentary he was creating about Dean’s investigation of the monster.

It shows something breaking the water in a V shape that John claimed was 20 meters long.

Jonathan Downes from the CFZ was more willing to talk to me about the time he spent at Windermere as part of a research team. Downes had this to say:

“Our theory is that they are giant eels which occur once or twice in a generation, but are nowhere near as big as people say. When eels reach sexual maturity they swim down to the sea, migrate to the Sargasso Sea, mate, spawn and die. We believe that occasionally an eel is born sterile so it doesn’t have the biological imperative to migrate, it stays in freshwater and carries on eating and gets enormous (by eel standards). European eels are not supposed to get bigger than 4 ft but there is (or was) a 5 foot plus one in Blackpool Tower Aquarium (of all places).

I think that once or twice in a generation in a large body of water like Windermere or Loch Ness, a specimen of 8-12 feett could be living. We have found eyewitnesses but the rest is exaggeration or potentially fraud.

If there is anything there it HAS to be a fish and basically that means eel, pike, or possibly Sturgeon. In my long and chequered career I have found that there is usually a sensible explanation for everything, not always, but very much usually.”

I found Jon’s ideas to be interesting, and the idea that what is being seen is something naturally occurring in the lake being misidentified sounded plausible to me, but I wasn’t 100% sure about the giant eel claim. I understand that an eel of 5 foot in length was in Blackpool Aquarium, but the monster sighted on the lake is said to be between 20 – 50 feet in length.

Also, eye-witness testimony alone doesn’t make conclusive evidence for the existence of eels that are 8 – 12 foot in length.

I realised that the people I really needed to speak to were the people who had experience with the ecosystem of Windermere. If a giant eel or fish was being misidentified as a monster I realised that the people who studied the fish population of the lake would be the people most likely to know about it.

I managed to make contact with Dr Ian J Winfield who was happy to answer the questions I had about the ecology of Lake Windermere. Dr Winfield has been studying the ecology and management of freshwater fish in Windermere since 1990 for The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) in their Lancaster facility. Although such work is conducted throughout the UK and overseas, a large component of it involves the continuation of long-term netting and trapping studies of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus), perch (Perca fluviatilis) and pike (Esox lucius) in Windermere, which began during the 1940s.

This work is augmented by the use of state-of-the-art hydro-acoustics to investigate fish abundance, distribution and size structure, together with aspects of their biotic and abiotic environments, (also worth noting is the fact that the Fresh Water Biology Association has also been studying Windermere since the 1930’s).

Most of the sightings of the ‘Bownessie’ monster have been described as being between 20 and 50 feet in length. In all the time that the ecology of the lake has been monitored and managed nothing even close to that size has been documented. Indeed, there is no species native to the UK of that size in Windermere.

Also worth noting is the fact that unlike Loch Ness, there is no canal connecting Windermere with the sea so this discounts the possibility of a large sea creature accidentally finding its way into the lake as was a possible cause for some Loch Ness Monster sightings. Windermere is drained from its southernmost point by the River Leven, but the River has a waterfall along its length which means it would be impossible for a seal or a whale or similar to pass along the waterfall, down the river and into the lake.

Had a seal, a whale or similar been illegally introduced to Windermere and survived, there would have been more than just the handful of sightings that have been documented. Not to mention the impact such a creature would have on the ecology of the lake – something that researchers would certainly have seen and would have documented.

The fish community of Windermere, which comprises 16 species including the nationally important Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus), is undoubtedly the best studied Lake fish community in the UK.

Winfield & Durie (2004) reviewed the history of fish species introductions in Windermere and nearby lakes, a total of 12 native (brown trout (Salmo trutta), European minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus), perch, pike) and non-native (common bream, crucian carp, dace, grayling (Thymallus thymallus), rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), roach, rudd and tench (Tinca tinca)) fish species are known to have been brought for the purpose of live-baiting. [1]

As mentioned before, one theory for the cause of the monster is that people are mis-identifying a giant eel.

Although there are Eels in Windermere, they tend to be three or four feet in length and none are as large as 20 foot long. Also worth noting is that Eels do not stick their heads out of the water when they are swimming, which is something that many eye-witnesses have reported the “monster” to be doing when they see it. (Quite often eye-witnesses have reported the monster has ‘humps’, one of which is a head).

Grass snakes, on the other hand, have often been seen by ecologists on the lake swimming very fast through the water, in a straight line, with their head held up out of the water. However, a grass snake will grow no larger than a few feet in length.

Although there is a link between sterility and growth in eels, it tends to be growth in girth rather than in length. Also noteworthy is the fact that several of the ‘Bownessie’ sightings were made during winter months when Eels (like many species of fish in Windermere) tend to become more inactive and hibernate. Therefore the sightings in winter months were not likely to have been eels.

Dr Winfield has suggested that if a creature of quite some size is being seen and misidentified as some sort of monster it could simply be a large pike. Another possibility is that somebody has illegally introduced a catfish into Windermere as this is something Anglers have been noted to do in other lakes. They can grow up to 1 ½ meters in length (the biggest ever captured was 9 feet in length), but these specimen take some time to grow that large. Worth noting though is the fact that catfish have never been documented in Windermere and Dr Winfield doesn’t believe this is a very possible cause for the sightings reported (despite the media misquoting him to suggest that he did).

I also asked Dr Winfield about the video shot by John McKeown that apparently shows something breaking the water, and whether there was anything in the lake that could cause such a disturbance to the water surface. He informed me that although he didn’t believe it to be caused by a species of fish, it could have been a rock in the water (they sometimes become exposed as wakes go over them etc.) or may have even been something under the water that had become caught in a boat wake.

I too felt that McKeown and Maynard had connected the footage with the monster with nothing to support such a connection and it was clear I wasn’t the only one who felt that despite the video being interesting, it doesn’t really weigh up as evidence of a monster existing.

With all of this in mind, I took another look at the information about the individual sightings I had collated and looked at the features of the monster that eye-witnesses had noted.

If we are to believe that all of the eye-witnesses saw the same monster, then we have to believe that the creature they saw has the following features:

  1. It is 20 – 50 feet in length
  2. It has a head like a Labrador dog
  3. It can jump in and out of the water
  4. It looks like a dolphin or seal without fins
  5. It looks like a giant eel

No species of fish or animal in Lake Windermere has all of these features – especially not a head like a Labrador dog. When Dr Winfield was first shown the photo taken by Linden Adams, the detail about the size of the creature and the labrador-like head were not mentioned.

After reading over various accounts of the sightings of this monster and the different opinions of researchers, I am drawn to the theory that the monsters that the eye-witnesses have reported may actually be simple mis-identifications of other fish in the lake. It’s not difficult to see something you can’t identify and misjudge it to be paranormal in nature – especially if the suggestion of such a creature existing is already there.

In this video produced by the CFZ about their expedition you can hear Steve Burnip, the first eye-witness in 2006, stating that it was very difficult to judge the distance between where he was standing and where the creature was in the water.

This is, I believe, probably the reason that many people believe they have seen some sort of monster in the lake when in fact they could have been looking at a large fish or a regular sized eel.

There is no way that Burnip could be 100% certain that the creature he saw was twenty-foot in length if he couldn’t tell how far away from him the thing was.

Linden Adams claims he was 1000 feet above ground level (on the side of a mountain), when he spotted and photographed the creature swimming through the lake and causing a wake. It would have been really difficult for him to make an accurate guess at the size of it, even by comparing it to boats in the distance. It could have been a number of things leaving a wake behind.

Tom Pickles and Sarah Harrington were in a kayak in the water when they allegedly saw the monster swim past them. It is very difficult to judge the size of something in the water ahead of you, when you are positioned low down in the water yourself – I personally live next to the Kennet & Avon Canal and have been in Kayaks and know what sort of perception you have of the water in front of you.

Also, if you look at the photo taken by Tom Pickles you can see, in the un-cropped version at least, how small the so-called monster actually is when you put the islands in the background in perspective (as I did in this previous article).

The case of Thomas Noblett, the managing director of a local hotel was one that intrigued me due to the fact that he seemed so ready to jump to the idea that his encounter was the result of a monster in the lake when there was nothing in particular that suggested such a thing. It was a huge leap of logic.

He was hit by a three-foot wave that appeared to come out of nowhere on the lake and then continued to travel on across to the bank. While speaking to Dr Winfield about the lake I happened to mention Noblett’s experience to him and he laughed and told me that it was nothing abnormal for a wave to come out of nowhere to disrupt a seemingly still lake. Quite often, wakes will stay around for long periods of time and will bounce back from the bank. This is probably what hit Thomas Noblett.

I cannot help but believe that the sightings of the Bowness lake monster may have been inspired by the suggestion in the media coverage of the case. It’s easy to slap a paranormal tag on something you experience when such an idea is playing at the back of your mind. For example, Mr & Mrs Arton who believe they saw Bownessie from their hotel room thought it was a Pontoon at first, until they read the local newspaper the next day and saw a mention of the lake monster.

I also feel that many people have jumped on the monster as a publicity tool, and not necessarily for the area because Lake Windermere doesn’t need any help attracting tourists to the area.

The Windermere Lake monster case is, in reality, quite unremarkable as far as evidence is concerned, though I am sure that for many people the sightings and stories are evidence enough in themselves. This is how folklore is made, and I believe that there will be many more sightings of the monster, and possibly more photos that show nothing to suggest a monster is in the water that will prove that exact thing to many who see them.

I will be watching this case intently for future reports, and who knows, I might even buy a copy of Maynards book if it gets published, just so I can finally read his expedition reports.

1 – Winfield, I.J., Fletcher, J.M. and James, J.B.  (2011). Invasive fish species in the largest lakes of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England: the collective UK experience.  Hydrobiologia 660, 93-103. doi:10.1007/s10750-010-0397-2.

Thanks to Jon Downes for his time and to Dr Ian Winfield for his help in my research and constant questions.