Sea Serpents

I have long been perplexed by the apparently reliable reports of animate objects travelling at moderate to high speeds on water, while displaying "coils". It is easy to dismiss the reports as erroneous observations, but I now have some first hand information.

A few days ago, August 19th 2000 I was talking on the telephone and gazing out of a window at the sea. I became aware of a large black object, between 10 and 20 metres long, slowly undulating in the waves about one mile away from me. I reached for the binoculars and still could not recognise the object, so with apologies to the other party I ended the conversation and went to another room for my camcorder. I recorded the object for a number of seconds, sometimes all of it could be seen and sometimes it seemed to be in "parts". I then went back for my binoculars to get a better view from the upstairs window.

                               Copyright 2000 Dick Raynor
Sea Serpent 1

                               Copyright 2000 Dick Raynor

Sea Serpent 2

As I put down the binoculars I could see that the scene had changed. A large ship was approaching the area, and the object was fleeing ahead of it. It now had a head and neck, and was moving at about 15 to 20 mph - say about 25 kph. I filmed the static undulating sequence, and the fleeing sequence, and show two stills above. The pictures are stills from a Sony digital camcorder taken at maximum optical zoom.

Without binoculars, one could only add to the body of "eye-witness testimony" regarding extremely long sea creatures travelling at high speeds, demonstrating "coils" and heads and necks as they did so. The green marker buoy is 1825 metres from my house, and the top is 4 metres approx above the water surface. The object is clearly some distance beyond the buoy, and probably of comparable height above the water. The far shore is 4200 metres from my position. The object is about 1500 metres from the mouth of the River Ness.

I will leave you to calculate and comment on these two stills for a while, before telling you more.

15th September 2000

OK It was a group of dark coloured birds sitting on the surface, and then flying off as the boat approached.
They were sitting on the water in (what appeared from my low elevation of about 10 metres) a long line until a ship approached  their position. I was not able to video the take off, but did film the undulating flight of the flock. When flying in formation, birds utilise the vortices created by the bird in front, and so have to maintain a fairly critical position relative to it to minimise their own flying effort. This means that when the lead bird rises, the rise is "passed down the line", and the same occurs when the lead bird descends. This is what causes a loop or hoop to appear, and is what seems to have happened in this case.  The thickening of the "head" could be put down to the flock curving away from (or towards) me, so increasing the visible density of birds in the air and making it appear darker.... more birds per arc-second..
I could not establish the species, but they appeared to be uniformly dark in colour. It was too early for migrating geese - I have never seen them land on water anyway,  they land in the meadows nearby to feed on crop stubble and winter cereals- but they could be a group of immature gulls, and they did head off in the general direction of the town dump. They did not appear to be diving on a shoal of fish, as cormorants or mergansers might in the same location. Gulls do sometimes congregate on water for no apparent reason - they do it in Urquhart Bay in the evening - and there is no prospect of any food there.

It may well be that flocks of birds flying in this manner low over the sea have come into view of mariners and passed from view without ever being resolved into their component organisms. This is increasingly presenting itself to me in my observations at Loch Ness: the group is seen but the individuals cannot be resolved, thus the large organism is reported.(see my pages on Mergansers and Goats).

 25th Septemeber 2000 Correction: Thanks to the readers who pointed out that the SS was further "forward" in the first picture than in the second one, implying that it was swimming backwards.  In selecting stills from the video, I had got them mixed up.

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