Jun 14, 2022 I Nick Redfern

The Loch Ness Monster: What is the UFO Connection to the Creatures of the Deep?

The Loch Ness Monster: just about everyone has heard of it. A large number of people claim to have seen the long-necked, humped leviathan of the deep. Some of them have even photographed and filmed it (or them). Nessie, as the beast is affectionately known, has been a staple part of the world of the unexplained since 1933, when the phenomenon of the monster exploded in spectacular, planet-wide fashion. Since then, millions of people have flocked to the shores of the 22.5 miles long and 744 feet deep loch, all in the hopes of seeing the elusive creature. Attempts have been made to seek out Nessie with sonar-equipment, aircraft, balloons, and even submarines, no less. Theories abound as to what Nessie is – or, far more likely and correctly, what the Nessies are. Certainly, the most captivating theory, and the one that the Scottish Tourist Board, moviemakers, and the general public find most appealing, is that which suggests the monsters are surviving pockets of plesiosaurs. There is very little chance of that. They were marine reptiles that the domain of zoology strongly assures us became extinct tens of millions of years ago. The possibility that the monsters are actually giant-sized salamanders holds sway in more than a few quarters. As does the idea that perhaps massive eels are the culprits. Then there are scenarios involving sturgeon, oversized turtles, catfish, and even crocodiles, giant frogs, and hippopotami! But, what if the Loch Ness Monsters are nothing less than...wait for it...extraterrestrial beings? While it might sound absolutely outrageous to even suggest a thing, the fact is that there has been a lot of UFO activity at Loch Ness. And, today, I'l share with you one particular saga of the deeply weird type. And it's a story that blends the real world and the domain of on-screen entertainment in intriguing fashion.

From August 30 to September 20, 1975, the BBC ran “Terror of the Zygons.” It was a four-part Dr. Who story, shown on Saturday evenings, and which put an interesting spin on the story of the Loch Ness Monster. In much the same way that the monster of  the 1970 movie, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, was actually an advanced piece of machinery – namely, a carefully camouflaged submarine – so was the Nessie that tangled with the world’s most famous, fictional time-traveler, Dr. Who. “Terror of the Zygons” tells the story of an alien race, the Zygons of the title, whose home world was decimated and destroyed by solar flares centuries ago. As a result, they decide to create a new home for themselves. No prizes for guessing the planned location of that new home: the Earth. The one, solitary band of Zygons that successfully makes the journey to Earth has the distinct misfortune to crash in none other than Loch Ness. And they remain there for hundreds of years, patiently planning for the day when they can finally claim the Earth as their own. 

(Nick Redfern)

To help them in their quest to seek control of the planet, the Zygons employ the use of a terrifying, huge monster known as the Skarasen. It’s an ancient beast of the deep waters that the Zygons turn into a cyborg – a half-flesh, half-machine that does their every bidding and which lives in Loch Ness. It has, over time, of course, become known to most of us as the Loch Ness Monster. That bidding includes a wave of mysterious and violent attacks on oil-rigs in the North Sea. It’s up to Dr. Who and his comrades, Sarah Jane Smith, Harry Sullivan, and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, to defeat the deadly Zygons – who are shape-shifting monsters that can take on the form of any human being they choose. Fortunately, Dr. Who finally saves the day, as he always does. But not before the Skarasen/Nessie wreaks havoc in and around London’s River Thames and the Zygons do their very best to take hold of the planet.

There can be little doubt that the writing team behind the story had some knowledge of the lore and legend of Nessie. After all, the creature is presented as not just an unknown animal. Far from it, in fact. In addition, the story does not shy away from the UFO-themed connections to Loch Ness. And, let’s not overlook something else of great importance: the masters and manipulators of the Loch Ness Monster, the Zygons, are diabolical shape-shifters. Just the like the murderous kelpies and water-horses of centuries long past that haunted Loch Ness and terrified the local folk. Although strictly fiction, “Terror of the Zygons” provided an intriguing and thought-provoking scenario to explain the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster. And, just perhaps, fact is stranger than fiction. Maybe, they sometimes blend together in extraordinary ways, as we shall now see.

According to Swedish Jan-Ove Sundberg, twenty-three at the time, on August 14, 1971, and at some point between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m., he was in a section of woodland above Foyers Bay, Loch Ness when he came across something staggering. No, not a fully-grown Nessie roaming the landscape. Sundberg near-stumbled upon a landed UFO and its presumed extraterrestrial crew! The craft was situated in a clearing, giving the impression that its pilots had chosen the site deliberately, since it gave them the opportunity to land and hide their presence – that is, until Sundberg inadvertently foiled their plan.The craft was, to say the least, a decidedly odd one. It was around thirty feet in length, dark gray in color, and cigar-shaped. It had a significantly sized section on top that reminded Sundberg of a large handle. The overall image was that of a giant iron used for getting the creases out of clothing. Amazement turned to concern when, out of the trees, came a trio of figures: all humanoid in shape, of approximately human proportions, and dressed in outfits that closely resembled the outfits worn by divers.

In fact, at first, Sundberg assumed they were divers, from a then-active team that was searching the depths of Loch Ness for the monster. It became apparent the three were not divers, however, when they entered the odd-looking craft via a panel and the craft took to the skies, vertically, for about sixty feet. After which it began to move horizontally over the hills and in the direction of nearby Loch Mhor. Nessie-seeker and author Ted Holiday made what was, perhaps, an inevitable observation on the Sundberg affair. It was an observation obviously prompted by his knowledge of how the Nessies seemed to negatively impact on photos and photographers. Holiday, by his own admission, found it extremely curious – but very typical – that someone at Loch Ness, when confronted by something so incredible and mysterious, should have been unable to secure photographic evidence of its existence. Notably, Sundberg explained this by stating that he felt a sense of paralysis came over him. 

(Nick Redfern) A monster or nothing but a piece of wood? I should stress this photo was not taken at Loch Ness. But, it's an intriguing photo, considering it was taken at none other than London's River Thames! Is Dr. Who really coming to life? John Keel would appreciate the weirdness in all of that!

Actually, Sundberg did manage to take just one photo, but it was one which researcher Stuart Campbell came to believe showed nothing unusual. Indeed, it’s important to note that Campbell believed Sundberg’s sighting to have been nothing but a strange form of hallucination - which, inevitably, means we have to be very careful how, and to what extent or otherwise, we embrace the case. Whatever the answer, it’s intriguing that Sundberg claimed on his return to Sweden he was threatened by Men in Black, experienced supernatural events in his home – such as poltergeist activity – and received odd phone calls. Three years later, Ted Holiday had his very own supernaturally-themed MIB encounter at Loch Ness, as will soon be demonstrated. Going back to the matter of that curious paralysis which reportedly prevented Sundberg from capturing close-up imagery of the craft and crew, the husband and wife team of Colin and Janet Bord have, like Holiday, noted that camera-based problems have always been issues for Nessie-seekers; in fact, since the very year in which mega-scale Nessie fever began. The Bord’s say: “When Hugh Gray took the now famous photograph of the Loch Ness Monster on 12 November 1933 he did in fact take five shots but four were blank.” 

The inference is obvious: there is some force at work, and both in and around Loch Ness, that prevents people from getting too close to the truth of the things they so intensely seek. And it prevents them in what is clearly a toying, manipulative fashion. Maybe even in a cruel and malevolent fashion. Finally on this case, we have something rather synchronistic. August 1971, when Sundberg claimed his UFO encounter, was the very same month that I traveled to Loch Ness for the first time, as a six year old, with my parents. It was the height of the regular, summer holidays. And, with the U.K.’s schools closed for a customary period of six weeks, it allowed us to spend much welcome time at the water’s edge. Although I saw nothing strange on that day, and neither did my parents, it was a life-changing experience – one that eventually set me on a quest for the truth surrounding the Nessies.  It would be appropriately weird – and weirdly appropriate - if a young Nick Redfern was unknowingly in the presence of both monsters and aliens, the former lurking in the loch and the latter hiding in the surrounding trees.

Nick Redfern
Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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