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Cell phone cam nabs Loch Ness Monster's cousin

With all the digicams out there snapping away at the planet, can it be long before Nessie and Bigfoot are conclusively made nonfictional? A just-clicked pic leaves the question unanswered.

editor's notebook You'd think with all the cell phone cameras out there snapping away at every inch of the planet, quaint little mysteries like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster would be cleared up in a, um, flash.

Well, perhaps that'll turn out to be the case. According to the U.K.'s Telegraph newspaper, a kayaking IT professional recently used his mobile device to grab a photo of "Bownessie," the less-famous, English cousin of Scotland's spotlight-hogging Loch Ness Monster. The grainy snap shows four humplike shapes breaking the surface of a misty-looking body of water.

Shapes of the purported sightings of the Loch Ness Monster.
Shapes of the purported sightings of the Loch Ness Monster. Wikimedia Commons

"Each hump was moving in a rippling motion, and it was swimming fast," The Telegraph quoted the 24-year-old Tom Pickles, reported progenitor of the pic, as saying. "Its skin was like a seal's but its shape was completely abnormal--it's not like any animal I've ever seen before."

The Telegraph has it that Pickles was out kayaking on Bownessie's home of Lake Windermere, in England's Lake District, as part of a team-building exercise with his company CapGemini. He was paddling with a companion, Sarah Harrington, who seemed equally struck: "I only saw it for a few seconds," The Telegraph quoted her as saying, "but all I could think about was that I had to get off the lake."

The paper also included a comment from a "journalism lecturer" by the name of Steve Burnip, who, The Telegraph said, claims to have seen Bownessie in 2006:

"I'm really pleased that someone has finally got a really good picture of it. I know what I saw, and it shocked me. It had three humps and it's uncanny--the likeness between this and what I saw five years ago."

Of course, the "goodness" of Pickles' pic is up for discussion. In fact, it so faithfully bears the hallmarks of the monster/UFO-photo genre (the aforementioned graininess; the animal/vegetable/mineral/paper plate/pie tin/some-other-object ambiguity) that, Information Age gizmos aside, it could've been taken anytime during the last several decades.

Still, the idea of a high-tech monster mission does whet the appetite. Maybe Google needs to outfit a special kayak with a Street--er, Creature--View setup and get it out there on Lake Windermere. Then, when Larry, Sergey, and Friends have solved that little mystery once and for all, they can send their insatiable cameras to the Hoh Rain Forest to see if they can dump a few conclusive photos of Sasquatch into their search results.

Then again, who knows? Perhaps a dead-on shot of a chupacabra sucking on a goat is already lurking in Google Street View somewhere. We'll have to get Michael Wolf or Jon Rafman on the case right away. (Oh wait! Been there; done that.)