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The Nessie Hunters
Tim Dinsdale
(Tim Dinsdale (1924-1987))

Tim Dinsdale was one of the most dedicated searchers for the Loch Ness Monster. Between 1960 and 1987, he led 56 expeditions, most of them solo, mostly on water; and he helped many of the other people who hunted for Nessie during those years. He brought to his quest exemplary dedication, integrity and personal modesty. He took his quest seriously, but never himself: pursuing truth for truth's sake. Having become interested in the possible existence of the Loch Ness Monster, Dinsdale spend a year analysing the then available evidence. In 1960, with a borrowed camera and on the last day of his first expedition to Loch Ness, he filmed a large object that moved rapidly across - and at times just below the surface of - the water; an object larger than any species known to inhabit the Loch. Dinsdale spent the rest of his life in pursuit of the further evidence that would compel scientific acknowledgement and study of the Loch Ness creatures. He left his career in aeronautical engineering to make his living in ways that allowed him time for field work; but he persistently refused to derive any monetary gain from his work at Loch Ness. He influenced many people, through his example, through his actions, through his lectures and through his books.

The Search Begins

In April of 1960 Dinsdale drove to Loch Ness, and there at the end of a week's exploration, on the very morning of his departure, Dinsdale shot a brief piece of film of a mysterious object churning its way across Loch Ness. The Dinsdale film is credited with being one of the most convincing pieces of film ever shot. The film was taken with 16mm equipment, using black and white film, Dinsdale's footage showed a dark indistinct blob moving across Loch Ness at a distance of 1 mile, then changing course and travelling parallel with the shore.Dinsdale in boat In 1966 the status of Dinsdale's film soared when it was analysed by R.A.F. photographic experts at the Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Center (JARIC) who commented that what the film showed was "probably an animate object". Here at long last was conclusive proof of the monster's existence. It was a turning point in the investigation. In the Spring of 1961 Dinsdale returned to Loch Ness full of enthusiasm. He later wrote "There was every reason to suppose that close-up cine film would at last be obtained." At the end of March he spent day after day watching the Loch from a variety of places along the shoreline. 1961 had drawn a blank, but Dinsdale put a brave face on the failure. It was a great boost to his morale to learn that some important people had been greatly impressed by his film. In 1962 the Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau was formed by various prominent public figures, including Peter Scott and David James, a conservative MP. Dinsdale joined as a "Field Associate" and began a collaboration which was to last for over a decade. 1962 promised to be a very exciting year indeed. There were three major expeditions to Loch Ness, together with a number of one-man investigations. Dinsdale himself carried out two further expeditions in the Spring and Autumn of this year, he failed to obtain any film of the monster. He made two expeditions to Loch Ness in 1965, continuing his lonely vigils from the South shore but he drew no results from either of these. Dinsdale continued with the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau until 1971 when their headquarters site at Achnahannet was abandoned and the camera equipment sold. Throughout the 70's and early 80's he continued to watch the Loch but in that time he witnessed two more sightings, and on each of these occasions unfortunately his camera was not available. There ends the tale of one of Loch Ness's greatest searchers, almost.

In July 1987, at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh, The Society for the History of Natural History and the International Society for Cryptozoology held a symposium on "The Search for Nessie in the 1980s"; the reception given there to Dinsdale's election to Honorary Membership of the ISC testified to the wide-spread affection and respect that he had gained. Dinsdale had become synonymous with the quest at Loch Ness, respected universally for his sterling qualities even by those who had scant respect for the significance of the quest itself - as attested, for example by the obituary in The Times. Dinsdale's own words are perhaps his most appropriate epigraph:

"The cost has been great - at a private level seemingly impossible to meet in time and money, and yet, in meeting it, by some strange alchemy I am the richer for it, and my family no less independent. DinsdaleAnd so to - the Monster justifies itself in terms of opposites; because I do not believe it is in itself important. Dramatic, extraordinary, exciting, a zoological wonder perhaps - but not important, in the sense that it is only an animal - like an elephant, or for that matter a cow which is equally marvellous...
But, in the way it relates to our scientific society - it is of enormous importance - in the case of embarrassing unexplained phenomena, science just "doesn't want to know" - and for this reason it is imperative that voluntary work continues at Loch Ness. We stand - on new frontiers of discovery which will test the credulence and courage of man, and his ability to adapt - will depend on his mental flexibility...We must have this type of mental outlook, and at Loch Ness we have such a rare opportunity to demonstrate the need for it."

In the memory of the example set by Tim Dinsdale, the Society for Scientific Exploration has established the Tim Dinsdale Memorial Award to honour individuals for their "significant contributions to the expansion of human understanding through the study of unexplained phenomena."

Robert Rines
Robert Rines (continued)
Richard Carter
Richard Carter's Analysis of Dinsdale's Film
The Feeding Habits of Nessie by Richard Carter
Nessie Lookalikes by Richard Carter
Map of Loch Ness

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April 1999
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