Tuesday 31 October 2017


'Croc Lomond?' an alleged photo of a crocodile-like Lake Monster
taken by Nick Taylor in 1997
Definitive Evidence?
In 1997 Edinburgh photojournalist Nick Taylor was featured on an episode of the now-defunct U.S. paranormal series, 'Strange Universe', where he claimed to have photographed and filmed not one, but two British Lake Monsters, in Loch Lomond, Scotland and Llyn Aled, Wales. Both pieces of footage were quite remarkable in their professional clarity and for the natural and animal-like movements of the creatures captured both photographically and on film.
I remember seeing the episode when it first aired and again years later on youtube, and thinking that it was possibly the most palpable, clear and convincing evidence of plesiosaurid animals in British waters.

Here was evidence that could be studied, and used as a valid research tool for learning about the behavioural habits and the habitation of these animals in our waterlogged isles. However, much to my consternation and dismay, not only were the photographs and film footage never released for academic study, but they also disappeared from youtube and other paranormal websites altogether.

Definitely Missing
What could be the reason for such a wholesale withdrawal of such illuminating evidence? I have since searched tirelessly for any online evidence of the original footage and photos and now can only source 2 grainy photos, one of each 'monster' in Llyn Aled and Loch Lomond respectively. The removal of this evidence from the internet, nearly in its entirety does not seem to offer any financial incentive, and withholding such astonishing evidence for 20 years is tantamount to hiding or destroying, through absence, an important body of 'assumed' zoological evidence.

So, I began my search to find the missing footage of these plesiosaur-like creatures with the realisation that I must first find the man if I am to have any hope of obtaining what could be a decisive win in the fight against the prehistoric extinction camp!

Nick Taylor was an Edinburgh freelance journalist, but where he was born and raised or any other detail of his life seems to be unobtainable or at least inaccessible from the current information that is known about him. Indeed, he strangely seems only to have been known for his discovery of these 2 elusive and previously unrecorded or at least photographically undocumented denizens of our inland waters.

In searching for a sign of his career I have corresponded with the N.U.J. (National Union of Journalists) and Reysher Entertainment who own the rights to ‘Strange Universe’ among others but have observed a true absence of Nick and his monsters in every source and lead that I pursued. With footage of this kind, it is important to note that dispersion via social media, like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter etc. would make deletion of this material from the internet nearly impossible, but as this footage was aired on a short-lived American Paranormal show in the late '90s, the online sources available at that time for dispersion of this film and its photographic evidence were in short supply. 

In my search for evidence of this vanished capturer of Celtic Cryptids I have knocked on many digital doors, those of my peers, cryptozoology writers and researchers alike, who have served many real years in this arena, to ask them to empty out their memories and let me see if my quarry may lie somewhere inside. 

I have badgered cryptozoologists like Loren Coleman, Richard Freeman and also Dr Karl Shuker to seek confirmation of this missing journalist and his extraordinary footage. Yet, even among these noteworthy and experienced persons, the material itself and the journalist were barely known, now only residing somewhere on the outer edge of the collective memory, perhaps?  Symbolic of a time when content was transitory in nature, recorded in the memory (or on VHS) and shelved in a format that was unlikely to be viewed by anyone other than those known personally to oneself, and almost certainly in a format that would not be dispersed and shared around the world, in the way that it is now so readily available to anyone with access to a smartphone or computer.

Nonetheless, this only gives us the story of the missing man; and the man without ‘the evidence’ we seek is, unfortunately, just another man. No more useful to my endeavours than any other stranger on the street. So, I went back to the web, to snoop and sneak and find the Nick I seek! But alas, either he is no more or his footage is lost forever, for I could not find a trace of either.

Disturbing Disappearance
Nick lamentably is not alone but joins a respectable list of people with convincing or at least 'worthy' video and photographic evidence, who have somehow disappeared from public view. This strange disappearance of compelling evidence or even a witness or two is not unusual in cryptozoology and Nick Taylor is just another crypto-witness who has disappeared off the face of the earth, so to speak, along with his 'conclusive' evidence.

Below is the account of the Loch Lomond Sighting

10th April 1997 - A mystery monster has been seen gobbling ducks in Loch Lomond. The 12ft long beast, now captured on video, has left scientists baffled. One even said it looked like a giant crocodile? SSPCA chiefs yesterday confirmed they had received several reports about the new Nessie. A five-minute film of the beast has been shot by pals making a pop video on the banks of 
Loch Lomond, near Rowardennan. Edinburgh freelance journalist Nick Taylor, who owns the film, said: "When the group were packing up they discovered this creature swimming in the water. The thing was gliding through the water slowly, but it often picked up speed and swam against the tide. They got quite a shock, especially when it started to swim towards them at one point. They thought it looked like some giant crocodile or alligator. They had never seen anything like it before.

The film was shown to Dr Andrew Kitchener, of the Royal Museum of Scotland. After viewing the tape he admitted that the creature it showed did appear to be a crocodile; however, he made it clear that a crocodile would be unable to survive in Loch Lomond. Dr Kitchener was able to rule out a mink or an otter as the creature in the videos.

Croc Lomond of Loch Lomond
or the Denbigh Dinosaur of Llyn Aled?
There is now some confusion over the location in
which each 'monster' photo was taken.
After reading the account of the sighting at Loch Lomond, I suddenly read the name of a person that I recognised, who could hopefully be contacted. Thus, In a last-ditch attempt to trace someone who may be a viable witness to this evidence I contacted Dr Andrew Kitchener, The Curator of Vertebrates, at the Royal Museum of Scotland, the only traceable person to have both seen and scientifically examined this footage. Dr Kitchener was kind enough to respond that he had seen the footage and remembered it well, and may still have a copy somewhere, but that it was on an unlabelled VHS (videotape) somewhere and that he did not have the means to check which tape it was on (i.e. -he did not have a VHS player!).

So started my attempt to obtain this footage by any means possible. It started with my request to receive the suspected VHS tapes on which the footage might be stored in order to view them on the appropriate equipment (a VHS tape player!) and have them professionally transferred onto a modern format and returned to the owner with the original.

I did, of course, besiege the good doctor for any information about the missing man himself, or any guidance that may lead to a direct contact but his contact with Mr Taylor had been limited and the journalist was not personally known to him. 1 week later I decided to harass the good doctor further with a phone call and was fortunate enough to speak to him. Dr Kitchener confirmed some rather important details about the footage he had seen and also cleared up some details that were misrepresented in his original analysis of the animal in the film. Dr Kitchener stated that he was approached by a band and Mr Taylor, who were making a music video when they claimed to have captured the beast on camera. However, rather than confirm that it was a crocodile as was claimed in the later newspaper article, he instead told them it appeared to be a dead sheep with the spinal column showing above the water.

Additionally,  Dr Kitchener informed me, that although the creature appeared to swim from left to right several times in the original footage, He perceived a fishing line which could be clearly seen, pulling the object. He was kind enough to inform the group and Nick at that time that there was no way the animal was a crocodile or lake monster, only to be told by them, that they intended to report just the opposite to the papers anyway.

Needless to say, the sheep became a crocodile which then became a lake monster. Adding together these rather damning bits of testimony, the mysterious disappearance of the monster film/s becomes ever more telling, in that a dead sheep being pulled by a fishing line is unlikely to maintain its mystery in an age of digital analysis technology at the fingertips of every internet debunker. Dr Kitchener remains committed to finding the original footage if he indeed has it, and has promised me a copy in any eventuality, which I will undoubtedly and happily share with believers and sceptics alike.

One thing that does trouble me about his analysis is that in the photo still, taken from the 5 minute footage now thought to be that of the alleged 'Croc Lomond' and not 'The Denbigh Dinosaur', the creature does not appear to be skeletal at all, and if anything it has a reptilian head, with a large rounded bumpy hump protruding from the water, which is much too far away from its head to anatomically be that of a sheep, (unless 2 animals were used at the same time to give the effect of a long-necked lake monster.)

That does nothing to explain the other lake monster photo, purportedly taken at Loch Lomond as well,  which quite clearly shows the crocodilian back and part of the tail of an unknown animal. Clearly, in cases such as this, where the credibility of the progenitor of such controversial footage is in question and the footage unofficially missing, we are left with only our gut feeling to guide our conviction and conclusion.

Again, the answer to most fakes and hoaxes is usually a simple one and the more complicated the 'alleged' hoax is purported to be, the less likely a hoax it becomes! This mystery was one that I believed would endure for some time to come, but thanks to the people at Lake Monsters, the original footage has at least been found. We can now see that the animal/object in the footage of the Llyn Aled (Denbigh Dinosaur)  footage is not a dead sheep at all, but something quite unusual! This goes some way at least to exonerate the man himself, although the means of his journalistic demise are no clearer!

Written by Andrew McGrath