It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


Classic Crypto Evidence: The Surgeon's Photo

page: 1
<<   2 >>

log in


posted on Aug, 18 2009 @ 07:12 PM
With all the discussion about "lost" cryptozoological evidence recently and the wondeful examinations done by TheMythLives in his "Case Reviewed" threads, I felt that starting a series of threads that take a closer look at some of the most famous evidence purporting to prove the existence of a variety of cryptids would be a great idea. So let's jump right in, shall we? Into the cold, murky waters of Loch Ness.

The Surgeon's Photograph

Quite possibly the most famous piece of Cryptid evidence of all time(alongside the Patterson Film) this single photograph(there are actually two, more on that later) has caused a sensation almost unmatched in scope and was one of the main reasons "Nessie" was brought center stage in the unknown animal debate in 20th century. Now let's take a look at the unassuming start of this controversy.

The Account

On the morning of April 19th, 1934, London Gynecologist Robert Kenneth Wilson and companion Maurice Chambers were en route to a hunting excursion at Inverness, Scotland, when Wilson stopped his car beside Loch Ness, two miles north two miles north of Invermoriston. After an all-night drive, he needed a rest. Wilson Later described what happened next:

"I had got over the dyke and was standing a few yards down the slope and looking towards the loch when I noticed a considerable commotion on the surface some distance out from the shore, perhaps two or three hundred yards out. I watched it for perhaps a minute or so and saw something break the surface. My friend shouted: 'My God, it's the Monster!' I ran the few yards to the care and got the camera and then went down and along the steep bank for about fifty yards where my friend was and got the camera focused on something moving through the water. I could not say what the object was as I was far too busy managing the camera in my amateurish way."

-The Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide, Michael Newton

Wilson and Chambers then drove into Inverness and had the photo plates developed at a local drug store. Two of the plates were blank, one had the now famous photo and the fourth had the second, much less known photograph. Wilson later sold the best photo's copyright to the London Daily Mail and it was published for the first time on April 21st. The drugstore pharmacist, George Morrison, who had advised Wilson against selling the photo, kept the negative of the second photo and subsequently lost it after making a few prints. This photo wouldnt come to light for another 20 years.


Initially, the scientific community did not question the photo's authenticity, merely the identity of the photo's subject. Dr. Wilson was known locally as a man of integrity and not prone to practical jokes or anything of that nature. Thus the discussion centered around whether this was an unknown animal or a case of mistaken identity.Most skeptics concluded that it was either a bird or otter bobbing on the surface, or that this was some form of flotsam(i.e a log, garbage, etc). Other researchers such as Tim Dinsdale(known for taking the first film footage ever of "Nessie") concluded from photographic examination that the creature's visible neck had to be at least four feet long, thus rendering the bird/otter hypothesis unsound.

It was not until the 90's that the idea of the photo being a hoax began to enter the public consciences.

Continued Below

[edit on 18-8-2009 by RoboKy]

posted on Aug, 18 2009 @ 07:16 PM

The Hoax Controversy

...But in 1994, 60 years after the photo was first published, newspapers around the world reported the claim that the "surgeon's photo" was a fake, part of an elaborate plot to dupe the Daily Mail. The man behind the story was a former English art teacher named Alastair Boyd, who had become an avid student of Loch Ness lore after he and his wife had had their own sighting of a large animal in the loch in 1979. Years later, a friend of Boyd's named David Martin discovered an old newspaper clipping in which Ian Wetherell (the son of Marmaduke Wetherell of hippo foot fame) claimed the surgeon's photo was a hoax. The article had attracted little attention when it was published in 1975, but two details caught Boyd's eye. First, Wetherell said the plot had involved a man named Maurice Chambers—the very same man that Dr. Wilson said he had driven up from London to visit in 1934. Second, Wetherell mentioned that the surgeon's photograph included the scenery of Loch Ness in the background. In fact, the familiar Nessie photo includes only the protruding neck and the water around it. Boyd knew that the original photo had included a bit of the far shoreline in the background, because he had rediscovered the uncropped version in the late '80s. But that full photo had been published only once, in 1934. So how could Wetherell have known this detail? "Either he had a very long memory, or he took the picture," Boyd says.

Ian Wetherell had died by the time Boyd and Martin read the article, but they were able to track down his step-brother, Christian Spurling, in the south of England. Spurling, 93 and near death, confessed. Unhappy with the way he was treated by the Daily Mail after the hippo foot fiasco, Duke Wetherell had set out to get his revenge, enlisting his son and step-son in the plot. First Spurling built a model monster by grafting a head and neck onto the conning tower of a toy submarine. Then Wetherell and his son Ian drove up to the loch and staged the photograph, taking care to include the actual Loch Ness scenery in the background. Finally, to conceal his own role in the hoax, Wetherell persuaded Dr. Wilson, through their common friend Chambers, to have the photo developed and sell it to the Daily Mail as his own. The plot worked better than any of them could have imagined...

-"The Birth Of A Legend", Stephen Lyons, NOVA Online

(For clarification: Marmaduke Wetherell was a self proclaimed "big-game hunter" who acquired funding from the Daily Mail for a Nessie hunting expedition in December, 1933. On December twenty third, he declared that he had found Nessie tracks. Experts from the British Museum later determined that these were hippo tracks, presumbly from a mounted specimen. The Daily Mail lamabasted him in print and eventually dissolved the expedition.)

Continued Below

posted on Aug, 18 2009 @ 07:19 PM
Some interesting things to note about the "Spurling Story":

  • The media has always portrayed Spurling's recount as a "death bed confession", when in fact Boyd and Martin recieved his "confession" sometime in 1991 and he did not pass away until November of 1993. This raised the suspicion that the story was not released until after his death so as to prevent any other researchers from cross examining him

  • The fourteen or eighteen inch clockwork toy submersible supposdly used for the photo, as described by Spurling, seems to not exist in any known antique toy catalog of the time

  • The "plastice wood' medium that is described as to what the Nessie portion of the toy submersible was composed of did not exist in April of 1934, as stated by Karl Shuker

  • Spurling seemed to have only vague knowledge of the second photo. When questioned by the Ness Information Service Newsletter, he "... was vague, thought it might have been a piece of wood they were trying out as a monster, but [was] not sure"

  • Why would Spurling be the only one to confess before his death, if the entire venture was to exact revenge on the Daily Mail on behalf of Marmaduke Wetherell?

Another thing to note is that Spurling stated that the photo was taken in a small inlet, though the full, uncropped version of the photo, re-discovered by Alastair Boyd in the 80's shows no other shore lines besides the far shore.

This could be countered by Joe Nickell's article in the Skeptic's Briefs newsletter, March 1995 in which he states that the promontories would not have shown in the photo, though he fails to state as to why this would occur, it is to be assumed that it has to do with the fact that he finds the photo "more or less dead centered".

The Second Photo

The second photo is often presented as something of a wrench in the works for debunkers. The angle appears to be almost identical to the first photo yet the subject of the shot appears to have shifted quite dramatically. This of course poses a problem for the Spurling story, in that the Nessie neck attached to the toy submersible was stiff and ridged and
would have been incapable of being shifted into the position shown in the second photo.

Joe Nickell's argues that the photo is of such poor quality, that weather conditions appear different, and that the photo's subject is so much different then the first, that it can not be the same model/animal thus meaning it was taken at a different time and possibly a different location, leading him to conclude it is also a hoax. He quotes Ronald Binns, author of The Loch Ness Mystery Solved (1984) to back up his claim.

Black and white photographs are so much easier to fake than colour photographs, and still photographs are so much easier to fake than home-movie or video film. The fact that the object shown in Wilson's photograph is very close to the shore is itself very suspicious, as this is just what one would expect from a model thrown into the loch. There is also almost what amounts to a basic rule about Nessie photos and films. The photos, being fakes and/or models, are always of an object relatively close to the photographer. The movie film, being genuine footage of an object which is not a monster, is always too far away to be properly identifiable.

Nickell's statement, though, is seemingly countered by Spurling's vague description of the second photo, in which he states it could have been a piece of wood. The fact that he could so clearly recall the situtation surrounding the first photo, but can barely give any detail for the second makes his story, and Joe Nickell's assertion, dubious.

Continued Below

posted on Aug, 18 2009 @ 07:23 PM
It's too bad that so many kooks have altered photos in the past. Now with all the trickery you can do with a computer any photographic evidence is usually assumed to be altered. At least the older photos could be examined for the subject being staged or double exposures and the like!

Off topic love your quote [I think you can see why] and do you know what your avatar image is of?

posted on Aug, 18 2009 @ 07:26 PM

Current Situation

Today, most main stream researchers are of the opinion that the photo(s) are indeed fake and that this was one of the greatest hoaxes of all time. The media is partially responsible for this, since immediately after Boyd and Martin's story broke, it was repeated again and again, without any real objective investigation. Their statements were taken at face value, and very few researchers bothered to look any deeper. The average person has only the media's cursory statements on the matter as to the facts concerning the photos.

My Opinion and Final Thoughts

I would be lying if I said that I didnt want to believe that these photos were absolutly real and that they proved, without a doubt, the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. But, I am a realist and attempt to be as objective as possible when confronting these types of controversies.

I find that the evidence supporting these photos as genuine(by genuine I mean not purposely faked and that they show a large, unknown animal in Loch Ness) to be more substantial and convincing then the evidence against. That isnt to say that there arent inconsistencies and issues with the photos, but the hoax line of thought depends almost entirely on the Spurling account, and as we have seen, it's dubious at best.

I can still remember that night in 1994 I was made aware of the "revelation" that the photos were hoaxed. I was watching Nightly News with Tom Brokaw on NBC with my folks. That night Stone Phillips was filling in for Brokaw and the last segment they ran that night was on the Boyd/Martin story. Phillips talked about it for maybe three minutes, made a wisecrack about it then credits rolled. Being 8 years old and still in the throes of a dinosaur obsession, I was truely crestfallen to have the hope that somewhere out there, in some dark corner of the earth, those great and terrible lizards(yes, I'm aware that if Nessie is a plesiosaur, its a marine reptile and that dinosaurs were not actually lizards) still roamed dashed in one short news segment.

For years I was like most of the general public convinced of the hoax, until two years ago, when I received the Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology as a gift. After reading the entry on the Surgeon's Photo, I began to seriously doubt the standard line and thats why I made this thread.

So what do you all think

[edit on 18-8-2009 by RoboKy]

posted on Aug, 18 2009 @ 07:29 PM
reply to post by hangedman13

I've been a huge Lovecraft fan for many years and yes, my avatar is, of course, Venom from GGXX, greatest 2D fighter of all time.

And I agree that with photo manipulation techniques these days, it makes it nigh impossible to truly determine if a photo has been altered in any appreciable way.

posted on Aug, 18 2009 @ 07:35 PM
reply to post by RoboKy

Well... Thank you for the kind words first of all my good friend. I am sure that you are going to recieve ridiculous amount of applauses, Flags and Stars. Really well done. I tend to agree that the photo presented is not that of the Loch Ness, however, I do believe that their is/was a monster down there. But definately if its a HOAX, which I believe it is, than it is possibly one of the BEST Hoaxs and ONE of the most sensational hoax's of all time.

Excellent Thread all around S&F'ed.

posted on Aug, 18 2009 @ 07:39 PM
reply to post by RoboKy

Cool man I use to play Testament in that game! Funny thing is I'm a fellow NYer! Must be something in the water.

I have always found it odd that sightings of various cryptids are usually tied back into the history of the region. IE Champ, bigfoot, and Lochness. After having seen the prehistoric whale skeleton found near lake Champlain, I wondered what former sea dwelling animals could adapt to fresh water conditions. I know there is a precedent for it. Fresh water dolphins come to mind.

posted on Aug, 18 2009 @ 08:05 PM
Is this still the crypto forum? I think I've gotten lost lately. There has been too many high caliber threads for this to be the old crypto forum. (That is my strange way of saying awesome contribution!)

Glad to see some of our newer members are showing their colleagues how it is done.

S + F (and applause if I could)!

posted on Aug, 18 2009 @ 08:32 PM
A friend of mine insists there was a circus at the time and an elephant was taking a swim.

Google link

posted on Aug, 19 2009 @ 10:11 AM
I wish that photo wasn't a hoax. But I do believe that it is one.

Again, we can only hope for more evidence to support Nessie's existence in the future. She may be my favorite cryptid. And I, too, found out when I was about 8 or 9 that the photo might have been a hoax. Of course it was a few years past 1994, but I read all the books and all the sightings going back to the 1500s...

I know something is in there. The photo is almost moot at this point. We just need more evidence now, and when we get it, no one will be able to call it a hoax.

posted on Aug, 19 2009 @ 07:21 PM
reply to post by RoboKy

Great thread, personally I believe the Surgeon's photo is a hoax, but I'd love it if I were wrong. I also believe that the new reports of Nessie possibly being dead now are somewhat possible, I don't know. I do think there at least was something in there ad many other bodies of water, including the deep oceans(think "Bloop" sound).

It is GREAT to see newer members taking after some of the older, respected, and great contributing members like TheMythLives, Ravenshadow13, Gemwolf, and foofstarr(and that is only in TWO forums!) and making a great presentation of a thread, thank you for that.

posted on Aug, 19 2009 @ 07:28 PM
Good god people the men who faked this photo came foward and said as much. It is a toy they put in the water near the bank and photographed it. What's amazing they said is that although they are the ones who took this photo and now admit it's fake they are having a hard time getting people to believe them. The same with the patterson bigfoot video footage. The very person who shot the film admitted it was a friend in a suit but nobody believes him.

posted on Aug, 19 2009 @ 08:13 PM
The surgeons photo is a hoax! I thought this was well known?
The monster in the picture is in fact a clay head and neck stuck on the back of a toy submarine. Not so long ago a researcher made the same sort of model and placed it in the water right where the surgeons pic was taken and the two pictures were identical.

posted on Aug, 19 2009 @ 08:37 PM
reply to post by kenton1234 reply to post by Mintwithahole.

Did you even bother to read the thread? Obviously you didnt, since there wasnt just one individual who supposedly "faked" the photo and the hoax story, as told by Spurling, has a number of holes in it. I appreciate opposing viewpoints, thats what this thread is about, fostering debate about these photos, but please, dont come in here without bothering to read the evidence I have presented and just making these blanket statements.

posted on Aug, 19 2009 @ 08:46 PM
reply to post by RoboKy

Whats the point of this thread? The surgeons picture is a proven hoax! It's been replicated a dozen times, it's been tested to see how large the object is in the picture in reference to the shoreline, and all serious Nessie investigators have agreed that it is a HOAX!

What thread are you going to start next? The Tooth Fairy Is Real, or perhaps, Santa Claus=The Truth. . .

posted on Aug, 19 2009 @ 08:53 PM
reply to post by Mintwithahole.

Thats un-necessary, someone makes a thread of Quality and gets ragged on... does that make sense? No... And we wonder why un-researched threads are constantly made and promoted.

The point of the thread was to propose the case for the surgeons photo and against it. At least he proposed the case and did his research and than you people come in a rag on him for his research?

RoboKy, again my friend excellent thread and don't listen to the haters you have your own good things going
Keep it up, the Crypto Forum is only getting better with your contribution and future contributions.

posted on Aug, 19 2009 @ 09:08 PM
reply to post by TheMythLives

Okay, point taken, perhaps I was a bit hard, but I just can't understand the logic behind going over cases or evidence which has been clearly proven fake! It's a waste of time.
The guy in question is clearly into crypto zoology and I would imagine Nessie so deal with the evidence for it's existence which hasn't been debunked such as the sonar evidence for instance. Wandering down one way alleys when you know they're a dead end seems pointless.

posted on Aug, 19 2009 @ 09:10 PM
reply to post by Mintwithahole.

You know there are threads about Santa and The Tooth Fairy. Or at least Santa and The Easter Bunny on this website. The people who posted them were being serious. The threads were nicely compiled, and many members made posts to them which were supportive.

Just because you feel a certain way about a cryptid gives you zero right to criticize others for how they feel. Do you go into every thread about the Patterson Footage and post your personal opinion about it? I think that's actually less helpful.

There is a surprising lack of information on this board regarding some major cryptids. What RoboKy did here was what we need to see more of. We switched to valuing flags on this website because really, the topics and threads are what make the website run, not the replies that don't contribute much and could be just to gain points or stars.

By all means, if you feel a specific way about this case, start a thread. Research it. Post your findings. It can be limited to the photo or otherwise, you can go look at the Nessie sightings from the 1500s.

You know, the Patterson film has been "proven" a hoax dozens of times, too. But the verdict is still out. And even if this image is a hoax, it's a very very very historic hoax, up there with Patterson and the Fiji Mermaid.

Also, if the picture is a hoax, where the the idea of what Nessie might look like come from? How come the long neck profile matches reports from prior to the existence of the image?

There is no Hoax tag on this thread, especially since it researched both sides of the issue. I have not asked anyone to add a Hoax tag to any thread since I have been FSME. There is a giant lack of Hoax tags in the crypto forum.

Here's how it works: If something is an obvious CGI or something, it is decided by a consensus of members in the thread, but anyone can come along and voice a different opinion. Like that thread of the Japanese robot that was pink and looked like a sea cucumber? If a thread shows good research of both sides of an issue, like this one, we all go "Well, hm, let's talk it out. I think x because of y." If a thread poses a totally new question, we try to identify what it is. Sometimes we succeed (as in identifying an insect or fish, like the sunfish thread) and sometimes we still debate (like some of the big cat/black cat threads, or even the sewer thread which may or may not have been a tubifex cyst or something completely different like a gastropod.)

But never, never do we criticize another member for doing some great research. We never say "This is a pointless thread because that is 100% a hoax." If you have information to prove that it is, start your own thread, or join onto an old one.

If you are a "serious Nessie investigator" I implore you to bring up evidence of your own. Is the picture real? Is the cryptid real? And I will debate you on the latter, personally. But I don't want these accusations and insults floating around in this forum. It's not politics, religion, or healthcare debate. It's science. Let's try to keep a level head.

If something has "clearly been proven fake" there is no reason to believe that new information won't surface which could counter that. Plus, this is a historical piece of evidence. I don't see an elephant ear or fingernail in the picture. I never have. I will never see evidence to convince me 100% that this image is fake, and the OP included some dandy information about the confessions relating to this image which make me believe no one should have their mind set either way. But that is my personal opinion.

Maybe the correct question isn't "Is the picture real" but rather "Why is there so much drama surrounding it" and "What impact did it have upon history?"

Mint- I'm sorry you had to take the brunt of this but I've noticed it often recently, not only with you, but other members as well. I'm GLAD that this forum is getting some life!!! And I suppose this is just something that comes along for the ride.

[edit on 8/19/2009 by ravenshadow13]

posted on Aug, 19 2009 @ 09:12 PM
reply to post by Mintwithahole.

Thanks, I needed my daily allotment of unwarranted condescention. all "serious" Nessie investigators think it's a hoax. So what, does the fact that a majority of a certain group has one viewpoint suddenly negate any evidence that may cast doubt on that view? I'm sorry that I had an interest in stimulating a debate.

It's a good thing this isnt a forum for alternative viewpoints and debates about contested topics...oh wait.

See, I can be snarky too

top topics

<<   2 >>

log in