Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cryptozoology (IV)

I still can't motivate myself to write the piece on cryptozoology that I have been threatening for the last few weeks, but I just can't seem to get away from news stories on beasties of one sort or the other. The summer is traditionally a good time for newspapers to fill vacant column space with yetis, pumas in the backyard, and the Jersey devil, but I had thought that the combined deaths of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ted Kennedy, and Dominick Dunne (OK, maybe not Dominick Dunne) would have driven these journalistic equivalents of dust bunnies off to the far reaches of the internet, where they belong. But I was wrong. On Wednesday the Daily Telegraph asked the news question of the year: "Is the Loch Ness monster on Google Earth?"

The story, which actually first broke in The Sun (which should tell you all you need to know about it's authenticity), says that 25 year old Jason Cooke, a security guard from Nottingham, was browsing Google Earth (hopefully not when you were supposed to be guarding something, Jason!) when he made the startling discovery. "I couldn't believe it" Jason said. "It's just like the descriptions of Nessie."

You can judge this resemblance for yourself by looking at the image above. At first I was quite excited, because it seemed like Nessie might actually be some strange species of giant squid. However, it turns out that the thing on the right is actually a boat, trailing a wake behind it. The object of interest is the thing on the left. You know, the one that looks just like breaking wave crests, possibly on top of those big waves that are running across the picture from side to side.

The Telegraph article is a masterpiece of creative writing, chock full of priceless quotes. Earlier this year, apparently, it was reported that climate change may have killed the Loch Ness Monster. According to the Telegraph, "there have been no credible sightings of Nessie for over a year" which, of course, begs the question of whether there have been any incredible ones and how you distinguish credible from incredible when you're talking about a monster living in a lake in Scotland.

The article goes on to report that there have also been a number of searches for the creature. "The most recent was in 2008 when scientists used sonar and underwater cameras in an attempt to find the animal." It does not mention that they found absolutely zip. This is understandable if, as "veteran American monster hunter" Bob Rhines believes, the environment of the loch can no longer sustain Nessie. Or if (and I realize some of you may think this idea a bit far-fetched) the environment of the loch has never been able to sustain Nessie or any other large aquatic animal and it is inhabited only by shoals of arctic char and the occasional duck

However, it did occur to me that Google Earth might provide keen cryptozoologists with a new tool, enabling them to scour the planet remotely for their cryptobeasties while still holding down their day-jobs as burger cooks, tele-sales representatives, and yes, security guards. So I decided to test this theory by examining the Himalayas in exhaustive detail - and it wasn't very long before I made a quite startling discovery..... as you can see from this image.

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