More UFOlogy in a pond

Sightings of an underwater ‘saucer’ that resembles the legendary Loch Ness Monster are creating waves in the Lake District. It’s not the first time that a mysterious creature – dubbed ‘Bownessie’ – has been sighted in the waters of Windermere. As is also the case in UFOlogy, there are reports from ‘credible witnesses’ and even photographic evidence that some believe provide evidence that such creatures could exist.

A BBC news story includes both types of narrative, followed by the appearance of a skeptical scientist, Dr Ian Winfield, who has studied the lake for the past 20 years. He says the only living creatures in the lake that could have been seen are pike, salmon and otters. These are, of course, the equivalent of the balloons, stars and aircraft that frequently lead to UFO reports.

Which brings to mind a response that Lord Mountbatten once received when he asked the MoD’s Chief Scientist, Solly Zuckerman, if the government should investigate flying saucers. Lord Zuckerman was a naturalist and former president of the Royal Zoological Society. His response was to draw a comparison with the Loch Ness Monster.

Lord Solly Zuckerman, a skeptic on UFOs, crop circles and flying saucers (Credit:

“Here we have a submarine ‘saucer’ which has been seen by many people but which, so far, has never been seen when somebody goes to look for it,” he wrote.

“If all the resources of modern science [that have been deployed] at Loch Ness failed to provide any indication of the beast, we still won’t know there is no monster, although the likelihood is that most sensible people will take the view that the whole story is a myth.

“But those people who wish to go on believing in Loch Ness Monsters [and Bownessies – DC] will be able to do so on no more solid a foundation than disbelief in modern methods of observation. So it is with ‘flying saucers’.”

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