2013, November: Loch Ness Monster Seen by Satellites?

On April 18, 2014, the Mail Online website broke the astounding news that the Loch Ness Monster had been photographed by satellites and the image found on Apple's maps! The image had initially been discovered in November, 2013, but it was "studied by experts*" for six months... hence the April release of the story.

Loch Ness by Satellite

Loch Ness by Satellite (enlarged)

        The image appears to show a gigantic fish-like shape in the notorious Loch, measuring an estimated 100 feet in length. The experts who did the examining in this case was the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, who had the image pointed out to them by two people, Andrew Dixon, a charity worker in Darlington, County Durham, and Peter Thain from Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland. Each ran across the image separately, and each submitted it to the club. After six months of trying to find other explanation, the club concluded that the object in the picture was likely the monster of the Loch.

        As the club president, Gary Campbell, put the matter: "It looks like a boat wake, but the boat is missing. You can see some boats moored at the shore, but there isn’t one here. We’ve shown it to boat experts and they don’t know what it is. Whatever this is, it is under the water and heading south, so unless there have been secret submarine trials going on in the loch, the size of the object would make it likely to be Nessie.*" The ripples are too large to be caused by anything as small as a log or a seal. * Quotes from the initial Mail Online news article, posted April 18, 2014.

Hours Later...

        Just a few hours after the April 18 release of the news story to the internet, skeptics already had an answer that had been missed... spoiling the fun in the usual perfunctory manner.

        User 'CapnPegLeg' at the Metabunk website, using fuller copies of the pictures displayed in the newspapers, was able to directly compare the wake pattern of the 'monster' to the wake pattern of a boat of similar size coming the opposite direction in the Loch; and the wake patterns matched. The reason a boat was not visible in the strange wake pattern had two causes: first, the boat in question is likely white in color, matching the color of the wake, and secondly, the image was made by combining more than one picture of the area, and overlapping main features of the landscape... and in this case, the boat was in the overlap area, and one puicture showed it and one picture didn't. This resulted in the final picture adding water surface details over the top of the wake area, creating the appearance of the object being underwater as well as further obscuring the boat. To make it all clear, CapnPegLeg included a highlighted version of the image, to make the boat's outline visible:

Boat as Monster

Boat as Monster 2

        The Metabunk users even have a good guess as to the boat's identity: the Jacobite Queen, a white tourist boat that makes the runs of the Loch several times a day in the tourist season.

        And what's sadder still is that this is not the first time this has happened... in August 2009, a very similar image of Loch Ness found by users in Google Earth was also identified as a boat after initially being pronounced a satellite image of the Monster of the Loch.

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