monster hunter

Old Bridge physicist veteran of quest for the denizen of Loch Ness

By CATHY SABIK Home News Staff

OLD BRIDGE— For a physicist like Isaac Blonder' monster-hunting seems a curious hobby.

Yet whenever possible. Blonder travels to Scotland — in search of 'the legendary Loch Ness Monster.

'Physicists are only supposed t,o believe in what they can see, hear :and touch. Looking for monsters is quite a breather from that," joked Blonder - board chairman of Blonder Tongue Laboratories. a township based electronics firm.

Since 1970. he has journeyed to the Famous home of the fabled creature 11 times. joining other "Nessie Believers," many of whom are scientists with a strong devotion to the quest. Blonder's most recent trip was last summer.

But so far. Blonder's luck has run dry.

Except for detecting sonar traces of large objects passing underwater, he has never spotted the monster.


"I spend a lot of time staring at the water." he mused.

But the frequent trips to Scotland's rolling. green hills are vacations for him.

It s better than going to a resort," he said. "It's beautiful there and it's more fun — at least there's something to chase."

In 1975, members of an Academy of Applied Sciences expedition, of which Blonder was a part, snapped underwater shots of what they believe to be the head and neck portion of Nessie.

Last week, American wildlife photographer Erik Beckjord released photos of splashes in Loch Ness that  he says could have been made by the elusive monster.

Blonder is now chairman of that nationwide academy and has helped design the sophisticated photography and sonar equipment used to find scientific proof of the creature.

Blonder invented the Blonder Hydrophone, which records sounds of underwater creatures and plays them back The device, it is hoped, will intrigue the monster by its own voice, or by those of other inhabitants of the loch.

The most popular spot to look for Nessie is in the Urquhart Bay. Located on the north side of the, 740 foot deep loch, Blonder said. Many monster "sightings" have been made from this point.

Mooring a boat some 300 yards off shore, the physicist said his expedition team then sets up its strobe flash equipment and underwater camera, which is. programmed to take photos. The equipment is capable of taking up to I million shots.

Blonder noted, however, that he spends much of his time repairing equipment.

Just what is the Loch Ness monster supposed to be?

There are many theories, Blonder said, but one hypothesis stands out.

Based on average statistics taken from recorded sightings, the creature is presumed to be a large. Iong necked animal, capable of moving at great speed through the water and l creating a large wave.

It is thought to resemble a  plesiosaur, a reptile that has been dead for 12 million years, Blonder said.

There is also speculation that more than one monster exists.

According to research by Roy Mackal, a biologist at the University of Chicago, the loch's fish population could feed 30 to 100 monsters, Blonder said.

There are many stories surrounding the Nessie legend.

The first surfaced in 565 A.D. when St. Columba is said to have ordered the monster, which was terrifying people on shore. back into the water. The creature obeyed. according to the legend.

According to another popular tale, when many lochs in Scotland dried up, large black animals were left in the shallow waters, which then were killed by farmers—leading people to believe such creatures still exist in the Loch Ness.

People throughout history have claimed they've spotted the monster. In 1935, a newsreel, showing the boat-accident death of a Sir Cobb on Loch Ness, heightened curiosity.

Cobb was participating in a speed race on the loch when his boat collided with a V-shaped wave in the water, Blonder recalled. The boat flipped over and the Scottish statesman's body was never recovered.

Over the years, he said, people have concocted stories of the monster.

In one case, someone took an elephant's foot and made tracks from the water's edge to land, attempting - to show that the monster had surfaced, Blonder said.

"This was done purely for publicity," he said.

Blonder has seen many expedition teams, ladend with pounds of expensive, sophisticated equipment, met with frustration.

One such group, be said, was a National Geographic Society team.

"They had all sorts of equipment," he noted. "They wrote a story, but had no pictures of the monster."

On some occasions, Blonder said, the frustration has driven monster hunters to drink.

He tells a funny anecdote of the B&W Scotch Co. that sponsored a well-geared expedition but made one mistake—cases of its product were brought on board.

"The professional divers they hired spent more time drinking, so they never got into any serious diving." he recalled.

Despite widespread doubt in the creature's existence throughout t world, Blonder said it's the certain among Scots that convinces him Nessie does live.

He said he knows at least two dozen people — from priests to aeronautical engineers— who claim have sighted the animal.

And there are many similarities what they say they saw. he said.

"It's all circumstantial evidence but l've met too many people w have seen something," Blonder says "Many Scots don t know what all the excitement is about.

"They say, 'It's there. So what?'
  Copyright  Isaac Blonder
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