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Sounds of Nessie -- Interview with Jan-ove Sundberg


by Lois June Wickstrom

Jan-ove Sundberg has just returned (March 31, 2000)from Loch Ness where
has recorded sounds similar to those he recorded in August 1999 at Lake
Seljordsvatnet, Norway.

What first interested you in Nessie?

- My interest in Nessie goes back a long time because I read about her as a
kid, 40 years ago. In 1971 I went to Loch Ness for the first time, talked
to and interviewed Tim Dinsdale in charge LNIB, The Loch Ness Investigation
Bureau, and became even more interested. After another three visits I had
collected a lot of witness testimonies and begun to correspond with a lot
of researchers up there but I had no plans to search for Nessie myself.

Why did you decide to look for her with a hydrophone?

- Because of our success in Lake Seljordsvatnet, Norway, in August last
year when we recorded sounds that science canīt explain. Selma, the
creature in Seljordsvatnet, sounds like a cross between a snorting horse
and an eating pig. We went to Loch Ness for two reasons. To test our new
and modified hydrophones, sponsored by the Swedish Navy, and to see if
there were similar sounds in Loch Ness as there is in Seljordsvatnet.

How does a hydrophone work?

- Echosounders and sonars are active listening because they send sounds
into the water which, upon return, creates an image on either a screen or a
printout of whatīs being encountered under the surface. Hydrophones are
passive listening because they are basically consisting of a very advanced
underwater microphone, sensitive enough to pick up all underwater sounds on
maybe 15 km or more. 

How deep into the loch did you place the hydrophone?

- Between 20-30 meters and 60-70 meters. 

Did you put the hydrophone near the newly discovered grotto?

- Sorry, but we donīt know of any grotto underwater in Loch Ness. If you
are referring to whatīs called "Edwards Deep" north-west of Urquhart Castle
this is merely a "hole" in the bottom on a depth of 257 meters and not a
grotto.

How many animals are in the database that you use to compare the sounds you recorded? How long have people been building this database? How could
someone new to this get access to the database?

- The GUST Sound Library consists of the sounds from 20 of Europes most
common freshwater fishes and we also have some sounds from a Weddel seal
and an Australian crocodile. The sounds are not in a database but only on
our computers and will remain there due to copyright reasons.

What did the airplanes flying overhead sound like underwater?

- Like heavy bombardment and we couldnīt hear anything but this noise as
the RAF jets kept flying over us at 200 meters or less, again and again.

How did you convince the RAF to stop flying over Loch Ness while you made
your recordings?

- All I did was to tell them on their answering machine to please stop
their low flying jets and that we would consider such action as a
sponsoring. British media later told us that RAF Lossiemouth had contacted
the Ministry of Defense in London, who immediately had ordered them to stop
their exercise! I could hardly believe my ears when a spokesman from RAF
Lossiemouth called me on our mobile phone and told me we had a green light
and that flights were going to be resumed on Monday, the day we left for
Sweden again. British media went nuts over this and we found ourselves on
the news on every radio and TV station in the country and the newspapers
reported about it too nationwide. It even went around the world on both
Associated Press and the Reuters News Agency. 

When you heard the sounds you think are Nessie, did you recognize them
because of Selma? 

- No one knows how Nessie sounds or if "she" has a sound, neither us nor
anyone else but like I said before, our aim was to see if there was a
similarity between Selma and Nessie. There could be, because we picked up
nine snortings similar to the ones in Norway. Those in Scotland are faster
and shorter but the similarities are there. In another month and a half
weīll all know, when results from scientific analysis in both Sweden and
Norway are returned to us. 

Do you plan to listen for any other sea monsters? When? Where?

- Our next expedition is the GUST2000 to Lake Seljordsvatnet, Norway, which
will be searched for the third time (fourth time for me, because I was
there in 1977). You will find a lot of information about this on our domain and more will be submitted in the month to come. GUST2000 goes on between August 1th and 14th.

If you can prove Nessie exists, what's the next step? 

- Things I canīt discuss right now because theyīre both complicated and
expensive and we neither want anyone to beat us on such a project. We may
return already this year to pick up more sounds and will definitely do
another, larger expedition to Loch Ness in 2001.

Do you have plans to take her picture?

- Pictures donīt prove anything any longer, unfortunately, because they can
easily be manipulated and there has always been a number of ways to fake
them. Camcorder footage are better and especially underwater, but such
things could take a million years and we are too impatient to even try.

Are you involved in any other Nessie projects?

- No, not except the plans for next year but after GUST2000 in August, Iīm
also the expedition leader for a smaller quest in Central Sweden where we
have "Storsie" or "The Great Lake Monster", a creature similar to both
Nessie, Selma, Ogopogo, Champ and all the others throughout the world.

Best, Jan