Independent volunteer research organization Loch Ness Exploration has planned what will be the largest surface watch of Loch Ness since the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau ended its surface watch in 1972.
The search will take place this weekend, August 26th and 27th, and involves over a hundred volunteer researchers.
According to the Loch Ness Centre:
Over the weekend, surveying equipment that has never been used on Loch Ness before will be enlisted to uncover the secrets of the mysterious waters. This includes thermal drones to produce thermal images of the water from the air using infrared cameras, as observing heat from above could provide a crucial component for identifying any mysterious anomalies. Finally, a hydrophone will be used to detect acoustic signals under the water, listening for any Nessie-like calls, as well as further technology in the hunt for the truth.
The Singular Fortean Society’s Tobias Wayland was able to interview expedition leader Alan McKenna prior to the event.
This expedition marks McKenna’s first major investigation of the loch, although he has visited monthly for at least the past two years.
His interest in Nessie, however, has been a lifelong endeavor.
“I think, well, Nessie was the first one,” McKenna said. “He was the godfather, in my opinion, when it came to cryptids and it was Tim Dinsdale’s book, Loch Ness Monster, that was the very first book that I read, even in childhood, and from that moment on that was it. That’s kind of where the interest came from. I do have other interests, obviously in other cryptids throughout the world. I’m a big Bigfoot fan and Lake Champlain and Lake Okanagan and stuff like that. But I’m very, very focused on Loch Ness. I think it’s always been there, that interest.”
McKenna immersed himself in books and documentaries, but when he ran out of those, he decided that he needed to contribute to the search for Nessie himself.
“I’ve got my hands on as many books as I possibly could and watched as many documentaries as I possibly could. But when all that stopped, I found myself at a loose end. I’m thinking, what do I do now? I’ve now got to sit about and wait for the next potential site or the next book or the next documentary, whatever you want to call it. And I just said to myself, ‘Well look, I’m only two and a half hours away drive from Loch Ness. Why am I not going up and doing that myself?’ And that’s what pushed me to create Loch Ness Exploration. I’ve always wanted to do something like that. And growing up as a teenager, when you’re watching these documentaries, you’ve seen it all on TV, and you go, ‘God, I wish I was there. I wish I was part of that.’ So, it’s exciting. It’s really good, and on one level as well, it’s really selfish. I don’t want the mystery to end. So, it was almost like I need to keep this going,” he explained.
While his search has yet to turn up definitive evidence, McKenna remains optimistic.
“If we’re talking solely about the Loch Ness Monster, then no, I haven’t seen a single thing,” he said “But I always say this to people that if there is something lurking in Loch Ness, it does not play by the rule book. It is a game of patience and you’ve got to be in the right place at the right time.”
To that end, McKenna has tried to manage expectations among the volunteers.
“We’re not going to solve the mystery in two days. It just will not happen,” he said “So I’ve always made it very clear to our volunteers to say, look guys, you might see something you might not. […] I kind of mentally prepared people [by explaining that] as much fun as it’s going to be, it’s going to be a learning curve for a lot of us, especially people who don’t know the natural environment.”
The search itself will begin with a morning briefing, followed by the volunteers spreading out to a number of predesignated observation points. Then, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mckenna, along with Dick Raynor, an original member of the Loch Nest Investigation Bureau, will take guests out on the water to experiment with a hydrophone. Ideally, McKenna said, any hydrophone recordings can be contributed to an archive of known sounds from the loch that can then be used to help identify anything truly unusual. The search will end that day with a debriefing and evidence review at 5 p.m., but volunteers are invited to listen to guest speakers and participate in a question-and-answer session at the Loch Ness Centre in the evening.
A team from documentary series Weird Britain will also be on hand to record and contribute to the search, including the use of drones equipped with thermal cameras to record the loch at night.
Naturally, McKenna can’t guarantee that the expedition will turn up new evidence, but said that if it does, it will be shared with the world, and even if it doesn’t, the trip will have been worthwhile.
“I think if we did find something yet, we would one hundred percent share it with people. And I think we owe it to everyone that’s spent a lifetime looking for this. And it is not about fame, it’s not about money. It’s the legacy again. And that’s what we’re all passionate about, really,” he said.
We’re not going to solve [the mystery] in one afternoon or in a weekend. It’s going to be an ongoing search pretty much. And that’s the exciting part. At least we’re starting it again, and then it’ll just keep going. It’ll just keep on going.
And hopefully what we’re trying to achieve might inspire other people to come along and join us as well. […] Loch Ness doesn’t belong to anybody, whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, we’re all there because it’s such a fascinating place to be, and that’s what Loch Ness Exploration has always been about. It is trying to combine those two together.
I’m not saying that we’ve successively done that, but it’s been great that I’ve been able to talk to both sides, and I hate using the term skeptic and believer. I think we’re all just Loch Ness enthusiasts. That’s the important thing. So, it’s been good fun.
“[Loch Ness] is a magical, magical place,” McKenna added. “It is fantastic.”