Thursday, 5 October 2017


Basking Shark Fin

At 4:30pm on Monday 2nd October, newlyweds Rebecca and Paul Stewart who were honeymooning at Fort Augustus at the south-west end of Loch Ness, observed what appeared to be a strange 'Fin' like object for 5 minutes, as it travelled across the loch. The couple, who took several photos of the object were convinced it was the large fin of a shark, although admitting to being confused as to how such an animal could have travelled so far from the sea, surviving the change from saltwater to freshwater.

Rebecca Stewart said: "We only saw the shape clearly when we zoomed in on the photo. At the time we saw seagulls flying near it, but they were tiny in comparison to whatever it was. We were standing on the jetty at Fort Augustus and it was on the foyers side of the loch and We were on the west side of the loch. My opinion is it looks more like a shark shape, but I can't think of any shark that big that could survive in cold fresh water. There is access to the sea but it's a long way away. After about 5 minutes a big boat went towards it and it disappeared."

Mysterious 'Fin' at Fort Augustus.
(Close up) photo by Rebecca Stewart
October 2nd, 2017
Paul Stewart added: "In the pictures, I took on my phone you can see the movement of whatever it was across the water. I couldn't clearly see the shape until Becky zoomed in on it. We weren't sure about the scale of it until a bird flew towards it, and it was small in comparison to the dark object. It had to be twice the size of the seagull. It's a very big fin if indeed it is a fin!? I was then speculating that it could be a tree or debris of some sort until it was disturbed by the noise of a boat leaving the Caledonian Canal and never resurfaced. That's when I had no other explanation as to what it could be, it had to be something big and very much alive!"

When asked if he too thought that the object could be the fin of a shark, he said: "We have watched documentaries about Greenland Sharks and Porpoises to see if it's possible they could be the culprit, but if this was a fin we saw, then I don't think it could be either of these animals as they 
Mysterious 'Fin' at Fort Augustus.
photo by Rebecca Stewart
October 2nd, 2017
only have quite small fins in proportion to their body size. I'm just so baffled now. I just don't see these animals having a fin as big as the one we saw."

I proposed to the witnesses that it could be some type of inanimate flotsam, but our witnesses were sure that the object was moving out into the Loch as other pieces of debris were being washed ashore. Additionally, what they perceived as the 'object' sinking, upon seeing a large boat entering the Loch from the Caledonian Canal, seems to indicate an animal-like instinct to hide and is unlikely to have been a coincidence.

Paul and Rebecca spoke about their sighting with some locals who are attempting to locate the skipper of the boat, that was seen heading straight for the animal before it sank, to find out if he too had seen 'something'. Some of the chatter based upon the description of the vessel indicates that this is a temporary cruise boat in the service of  'Cruise Loch Ness', until they have their new boat built.

The Stewarts, however, are not alone in their sighting, as the 'animal' was seen near the Castle just one day before swimming against a strong wind in a "side to side" motion; itself a very fish-like characteristic and one that excludes the possibility of the animal being a cetacean.

1: Series of 3 photos by witness Paul Stewart
showing the migration of the strange 'fin-like' object.

In opposition to other ill-fitting candidates like the Greenland Shark(A Nessie explanation proposed by 'River Monsters', Jeremy Wade.)Sturgeon(a favourite of Adrian Shine and others) or Porpoise. I would propose that a Basking Shark's fin seems to offer a better fit to what we 'may' be seeing in these photos, but freely admit that it would be miraculous if one of these sharks managed to travel this far from the sea in freshwater; traversing the somewhat awkward route from the sea via Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil, The River Lochy, Loch Lochy, Ceann Loch, Loch Oich and the River Oich to Fort Augustus in Loch Ness. There is, of course, another route via the River Ness that would superficially appear to offer a more direct journey to Loch Ness from the sea, but in actuality it is rather shallow in places and has several weirs; as well it inconveniently running directly alongside the town of Inverness; making the likelihood of a sighting or a stranding more probable via this route.

The Stewart's are not alone in their strange sighting, as there are other historical sightings of what appear to be animate, 'Fin' like objects in this area, that may corroborate what the Stewart's believed they saw. One of these occurred in the spring of 1958 when  Hugh Rowland, who was then running the Foyers Inn was sitting on the front lawn with his wife and two friends when they saw an object they described as 'fin-like' when seen from the side. Mr Rowland upon seeing Tim Dinsdale's film in 1960, said his sighting was identical to what was captured in this now legendary footage. What is interesting is that both the Rowland sighting and Tim Dinsdale's film were in the same location, although 2 years apart. As recently as November 2014, there was another (anonymous) sighting reported by a couple from Lancashire, who claimed to have seen a large 'fin-like' object in the centre of the loch, about 1 mile from Fort Augustus and again in September 2016, when a curious photo resembling something akin to a dolphin shaped fin appeared in a national British newspaper. The odd ‘fin’ shaped object clearly visible in the photo seems to be of a greyish hue with a white tip, leading to some of the more seasoned commentators on this subject postulating that in any other location it would quickly have been dismissed as the fin of a dolphin. However, how such a creature could make its way into the loch from the sea seems to be out of the common remit of or beloved experts on the permissible species that are allowed to defeat the formidable borders of Loch Ness ;)

2: Series of 3 photos by witness Paul Stewart
showing the migration of the strange 'fin-like' object.
Some proponents of the plesiosaur theory, such as myself, have theorised that these 'fin-like' sightings could be the hump of the animal viewed side on, in an arched position/formation. There are many sightings which describe these creatures displaying some flexibility in their backs and in some cases they have been observed adopting this position and then 'straightening out' However, this particular sighting was shortly after, debunked; or as I prefer to term it ‘clarified’, when one of the crew of ‘Cruise Loch Ness’ handed in a photo of a ‘fin’ shaped piece of driftwood taken that same day as they were exiting the Caledonian canal!

3: Series of 3 photos by witness Paul Stewart
showing the migration of the strange 'fin-like' object.
Alas! the issue with Loch Ness is that it is so vast and almost every sighting captured by any average person carrying a camera is always beyond the range of decent observation. However, I think this mysterious 'fin' sighting is significant because it hints at the possibility that large animals can travel from sea to loch and vice versa; which for some of us zealous believers in Nessie, creates a more plausible transient presence of the 'monster' in Loch Ness and its adjoining waters.

Written by Andrew McGrath

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  1. I was lucky enough to have attended a talk on "Nessie" by Nessie hunter Tim Dinsdale nearly 35 years ago. I'm still undecided now!!
    Thanks for news of a fresh sighting!

    1. Thanks Woodsy. I'm very happy you enjoyed it! :)

  2. it looks like it may have been some kind of flotsam, as a piece of wood matching it's description was reportedly seen by one of the staff of a local cruiser at around the same time in the same location on that day. check out Roland Watson's report on the sighting.