The Nessie Hunters

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All sighting and photographic references on this page are documented and can be verified through various publications.


Steve Feltham

Steve Feltham
(Steve Feltham)

Formed in 1991, Nessie-Sery Independent Research is the brainchild of Steve Feltham, Nessie Hunter..

Steve has devoted the past 9 years of his life to the research project which was setup to prove the existance of animals living in Loch Ness. Animals, as the locals call them, have inhabited the Loch for over 1500 years with more and more sightings occuring over the past 65 years starting with the notorious 'Surgeons' photograph taken by R.K. Wilson, a London doctor on April 19, 1934.When asked if he's seen 'The Monster' Steve replies “Six years ago I saw something against the waves, much as if a jet-ski was going through them, putting up a wash. Because it was at least half a mile across the bay, myself and a lass who was with me couldn’t see what the solid object was, but we could see that it was something substantial. There wasn’t a simple explanation. It only lasted for maybe 10 seconds, but that was enough time to say, ‘What the hell’s that?’ and watch it in amazement.”

His lifestyle might be unconventional ("Hand to mouth - I like it that way"), his vocation extraordinary, if not inconceivable. Yet he is articulate, engaging and pretty convincing. Still, despite all appearances to the contrary, you are inclined to think that Steve Feltham is surely stark raving bonkers.
You do not, after all, abandon a comfortably ordinary lifestyle in Dorset to live in a van that has seen better days on the edge Steve Felthamof Loch Ness, in often-brutal weather, unless you are a few pennies short of a pound (he is, but only in the literal sense). You do not, unless you are seriously round the twist, publicise a passionate belief in the existence of the Loch Ness monster. And however deranged you might be, you surely do not spend eight years doing little else but sitting on a beach in the hope that the elusive beast might show you its humps. Or do you?
Indulging your obsession is one thing, escaping the rat race is another - but there is a lot to be said for waking up to an impossibly beautiful sunrise every day, knowing that you have absolutely nothing to do but follow your own dreams - however absurd they might seem to those who boast a semi-detached, a fleet car and a fitted kitchen. He steps out of his modest four-wheeled home (boldly emblazoned with his one-man company name, Nessie-serry Independent Research), swiftly followed by his four-legged friend, an excitable collie called Tara. You'll see him on TV from time to time, patiently explaining his reasons for giving the unexplained his all.
"It just makes me laugh when people look at what I do and assume that I must be a bit crazy," he says. "I'm absolutely and totally doing what I want to do and I'm not doing it for anyone else's benefit. I find that as the years go on, when people turn up with a closed mind on the subject, I'm not going to waste an hour arguing the case just for them to still go away totally blinkered. I'm not here to open their minds." Hours spent on un-believers, you see, mean less hours spent watching for ripples, splashes or indeed any slight movement on the loch. To this end, he employs a high-powered pair of binoculars and a Hi-8 camera, the aim being to capture a definitive image of Nessie that will persuade sceptics and scientists alike. In eight years of observation, his conviction has never wavered, despite a lack of evidence that would discourage most. "Six Steve Felthamyears ago I was at Fort Augustus around 11am and I saw two-feet-high waves - something definitely went through there. It was almost like a jet ski. You could see something in the centre of the waves. If anything I get more convinced as time goes on. I suppose I had some sort of three-year idea in mind. But it's just going to take longer. Being here and hearing what local fisherman who've been here 20 to 30 years have seen - that's what makes me even more sure.
"I suppose obsession is one way of describing it. But the way I see it, this is such a small country we're living in and we now understand just about every inch of it. Well, this is something we don't have an explanation for. It's inevitable that we have to admit there's something unexplained in Loch Ness. I have to accept that the first thing I film probably isn't going to be the final piece of evidence. I'll carry on until the mystery is solved - until we've got to the bottom of it." Maybe, though, it's more love affair than obsession - one that began when a seven-year-old boy arrived in Loch Ness on a family holiday in 1970. He went to the local exhibition with his father, who bought him a Nessie portfolio as a souvenir. That was all it took.
"You know when you're in your English lesson and the teacher says 'Give a talk on your favourite subject'? Well, after that holiday I had a ready-made lecture to give my class. After that I started reading books on it, and from there I was just hooked.
"In adult life, I would take two weeks' summer holiday to come up here and I thought I would be able to solve it in that time. But I rapidly realised that that just wasn't going to be the case."
In 1991, when the lure of Loch Ness became too strong to ignore, he gave up his job, sold his house and embarked on full-time monster-watching, summer and winter, rain, shine or driving snow.
"For ten years I was a potter and a book binder and also a graphic artist. At that time I was quite content to come up for two weeks a year. Then I spent three years installing burglar alarms, which was a very lucrative business, but in the end I realised that there must be more to life than chasing money. "I think friends and family could see it coming. They could see my enthusiasm just growing and growing. But I think they thought it would maybe last a season at the most. In the first season I got involved with a lot of television, so it was a pretty intense time of filming and interviewing. But since then I've always tried not to plan. I do things as the mood takes me. On calm days I've gone for surface observation, but until I get a first picture I'm watching from different vantage points and getting local people's stories.
"I wouldn't say there's an average day. If the weather's good I'll get out here early and watch from the binoculars. Sometimes I could be out from first thing till last thing. I have a 15-foot rigid inflatable boat, so I might take that out for a while. It's pretty unpredictable. As soon as I get bored with watching the loch I'll do something else. It's total freedom and it's what I've chosen. Boredom doesn't enter into it. I have no regrets whatsoever." Over the years he has become a well-known face around the loch, and locals are quite happy to share their gossip. Some might have a chuckle at the fact that Nessie-serry Research bases itself so close to a pub (he is barely a stone's throw away), but most will tell you he is a likeable kind of lad, even if he is an in-comer. In fact, the van was a mobile viewing unit until the MOT ran out, but that's the price you pay for following your own vision. "This side of the loch is a lot less commercial anyway," he says. "I like this spot - you can get right down on the water's edge."
He supplements his income of donations by making clay Nessie models, which sell well in nearby craft shops.
"Somebody said to me I bet you've seen this monster, but you're not saying anything because it doesn't look anything like your models!"
He still has no firm idea of what he is looking for, but his concept is nonetheless unusual. "I'm open-minded, but I think there are 20 to 30 of them in there. There have been incidents where people have seen two on the surface one woman even saw three. It's not just one big crusty old monster. I think there's a small colony." He is also quick to reject assumptions that, whether singular or plural, Nessie would have a hard time getting a meal a day out of the loch. "People talk about a small population of fish in there. But they admit that migratory salmon and trout are not taken into the total. Neither is the large population of eels. These would double the calculation of fish numbers. There's a layer of fish in the first five feet, which is the roof of these creatures' world. That's why we have been able to see them at all. If that layer of fish was down at 20 feet we wouldn't know these animals were in there."Why, then, have none of these local stories produced a credible picture in all these years? Simple, he says. "There isn't a local person I know of who actually carries a camera - and they all walk their dogs along the beach every day. I think it's got to do with the Highland characteristic. They're used to being blasť about the fact they've got a monster in this loch. I mean, they talk about the northern lights and they say 'Och, that's the northern lights, have you not seen them before?' "The media have a lot of responsibility for the fact that the public perception is a joke. That's why locals don't describe what they're seeing any more. The only stories that get into the public domain are the sensational ones. Then sceptics sit at their breakfast tables and say 'Of course, it's just a boat wake.' It's short-term gain for journalists and long-term damage to any kind of sensible research. "What really sets us back is the slowness of the evidence coming forward and the limitations of our abilities to see under the surface. Technology will move on another stage eventually and we'll be able to look through the water and see what there is. "This is the biggest shop window in the world. Zoologists will one day come and say 'Oh well, I thought that all along.' "Loch Ness is the Champs Elysees of Scotland. People say that you sit on the Champs Elysees and the whole world will pass you by. This is just the same. You just never know what's going to come along next."

(From an interview with Steve Feltham)


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Dr Robert Rines
Dr Robert Rines  (continued)
Tim Dinsdale
Steve Feltham

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