Saturday 19 November 2016


 Tamsin, the River Thames Monster
Photo still from Youtube clip taken by Penn Plate 2016
1st Sighting

An Urban Plesiosaur in Old London Town

In the spring of 2016, London was abuzz with news that an eyewitness had filmed a monster in the River Thames. The witness, YouTube user 'Penn Plate' who was travelling on the Emirates cable car heading in the direction of the 02 centre filmed the creature briefly on the surface of the water, as it was submerging in the centre of the river. The clip he posted to YouTube, left Londoners and the rest of the world wondering what he had accidentally captured on film that day.

The clip itself is very brief and shows what appears to be 3 humps moving in the water with a dark mass beneath. The humps which vary in size from large (end) medium (middle) and small (front) are seen moving forwards then quickly submerging, after which, the water is clearly disturbed and a dark shape can be seen moving beneath the waves.

What this object of clearly very large dimensions could have been, was hotly debated, but realistically in the short time it was in view and the distance at which the footage was filmed, what the 'Creature' was, is anybody's guess.  Hardline Lake Monster enthusiasts like myself, found the footage with its 3 humps all too familiar, but as would be expected, scientifically speaking, familiarity is not proof and a closer examination of the 'Creature' or at least a closer sighting was needed.

The footage made it into some of the national newspapers and also had some TV coverage, with the usual 'Nessie on holiday' or 'Nessie got lost'  headlines, but, they were short-lived as a week (or so) later, the 'Creature' was filmed again near (Docklands) by youtube user 'Lea K' whilst on a boat trip with her friends. 

Tamsin', the River Thames Monster
Photo still from Youtube clip taken by Lea K 2016
2nd Sighting
This time the footage of the 'Creature' is much closer to water level. In this clip it appears that the witness seems to have noticed something unusual in the water and started filming, meanwhile, her friends are blissfully unaware of what she has captured and can be heard throughout the clip (quite sweetly) talking about a rainbow somewhere off camera. This clip to me has a lot of credibility. The background conversation is very natural and shows no signs of being staged, but more importantly, the film footage clearly shows something animate and I would imagine very difficult to fake.  The footage in 'Lea K's' clip shows something that looks black and very serpentine, it seems to curve into an S shape and turn to the right of the camera almost curling back on itself at one point;  a large rounded bump can also be seen at the front of the 'Creature'.  Whatever this creature is, its similarity in appearance to the 1st sighting and the proximity of the area it was spotted in lend a lot of support to it being the same 'Creature' as that filmed from the cable car 1 week earlier. This might be considered a coincidence, just 2 mistaken identity cases of animate looking flotsam perhaps, if not for the fact that there was a 3rd independent sighting only a few days later.

The 'Creature' was filmed again by a tourist whilst on a speedboat tour of London. This time the animal can be seen breaking the surface of the water to the left of the boat, it's black hump is briefly seen as it rises and falls beneath the waves as if swimming in an undulating motion.  Unsurprisingly, in a television interview, the speedboat tour guide confessed to feeling shocked and a little anxious that a creature of this size could be frequenting the Thames and who could blame him for being afraid of meeting this giant animal whilst in a tiny speedboat. I'm sure that the wake this beast would make, would certainly cause a small vessel to run into trouble. 3rd Sighting

So, what is it that these witnesses are seeing and in some cases capturing on camera. Is it some errant whale or porpoise? Not likely, the creature was not witnessed blowing at any time, a classic feature of cetaceans and one that is likely to have been witnessed many more times over the 2 week period in which the 'Creature' was sighted if a cetacean had been the culprit.  Also, cetaceans do not fit the descriptions of the pointed humps, or serpentine movements shown in the various film footage and no other known sea creature attains to the size or proportions that this creature seems to have.

As a London resident I personally went out on the water between the first and second sighting and travelled between Embankment and Greenwich in the hopeful expectation of encountering the creature myself, but perhaps, not so unexpectedly, I found nothing. I spent no little time trawling the Internet for information on migratory fish patterns, to try to justify this strange animal visit to an otherwise small and judging by the creature's proportions, tight space, in what is otherwise a very busy waterway. What I found out is that Sea Trout and more rarely Salmon migrate up the River Thames, but more significantly, Eels are known to migrate up the river between April and October, They are usually found close to the Thames Estuary, travelling as far as Greenwich. (There have been a few historical witness reports of Nessie and Morgawr  preying on eels, and with this, in mind, the sightings seem to suddenly have a biological reason...the search for food!)

It is quite unknown to most Londoners that their sleepy river actually has a history of serpentine creature reports. Earlier in 1999  London police allegedly received 36 reports from witnesses who saw a long serpentine creature travelling through the Thames, the animal was purported to be 200ft long and 5ft wide. The earliest established sighting of this creature was in 1923 by the famous captain Haselfoot and crew whilst aboard HMS Kellet, in a part of the Thames Estuary called Black Deep. The creature they saw was said to have a long neck.

Sighting of  Tamsin in The Solent between the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth
A photo by Jo Wilde 2016
4th Sighting
Shortly after the sightings stopped, a ferry passenger crossing from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight photographed a picture of a 3 humped creature in the Solent (the stretch of water between Portsmouth and the Isle Of Wight) perhaps this was the same creature that had visited us only weeks earlier, making its way back out to open water or another creature of the same type? Who knows? One thing is for certain, 2016 has been a busy year for British Water Beasties, with photographic and film evidence recording mysterious animals in Plymouth (The Plymouth Crocodile), Aber Afon (Barmouth Estuary Monster) the River Thames ('Tamsin') The Solent ('Tamsin?') and of course Loch Ness (Nessie). 

With the immediate availability of recording devices like mobile phones and the public availability of drones (aerial and submersible) coupled with the introduction of readily available advanced camera surveillance technology, we are likely to regularly film and photograph these elusive creatures more than ever before.  

Its only a matter of time until we capture one again! 

Written by Andrew McGrath