20th Century Dinosaurs... Page  10
20th Century Dinosaurs... Page 10

The Muckross Monster

Muckross Lake

Lough Ree may have been the first lake in Ireland to claim it’s own prehistoric monster like that of Loch Ness in Scotland. However Muckross lake in Killarney, Co. Kerry is turning up a mystery of its own and it is no swimming leprechaun.

Recent scientific evidence indicates that a very large and mysterious “thing” lurks beneath the tranquil surface of Muckross lake.

Although the jury is out on what exactly this strange USO or unidentified swimming object might be, parallels are already being drawn with the famous Loch Ness Monster.

Measuring over 20m or sixty feet in depth, and almost 80m (240 feet!) in length the object or creature has scientists baffled. For almost a year now, Irish and international scientists have been working with the Irish Char Conservation Group to find out more about the fish life in the Ice age lakes around Co. Kerry.

They carried out the first fish survey ever in Muckross Lake last September and identified the presence of the important rare fish called the Arctic char. This finding is of interest in itself but when they recently analysed data collected by new hydroaccoustic or sonar gear in April of this year they were completely taken by surprise.

Hydroaccoustic surveys basically beam sound into the water, some of this sound bounces back from fish, other aquatic life or the lake bottom and is picked up by a receiver which logs the information. This data must then be examined using sophisticated computer software.

“It was when we started to examine the recorded signals that we noticed something very unusual was going on in one transect logging.

Instead of the normal small signals indicating individual fish which we always get during our surveys, we got something the size of a two story house in 20-25m of water along the south eastern portion of the lake.

We have been unable to identify what exactly the image is, but we know that it is not a computer or logging error as the gear was functioning normally” reports Andrew Long specialist fisheries consultant with River Monitoring Technology Ltd.

Dr. Fran Igoe, scientific adviser to the Irish Char Conservation Group stated “ what we do know is the fish fauna in Muckross is very ancient indeed. We have confirmed the presence of a good population of Arctic char, and the lake is known to hold ferox trout, ordinary trout and Atlantic salmon as well as lamprey species and eel, all of which attest to the ancient origins of this lake.

This latest discovery is very exciting and the Irish Char Conservation Group is keen to continue our investigations in this area. Talk that these images may be that of a mysterious prehistoric monster like that reported for Lough Ness may be a bit premature.”

However it is noteworthy that both lakes have much in common. Both are large very deep lakes with similar fish species including Arctic char.

Lough Ness is the deepest lake in Britain, whilst Muckross Lake measures up to 70m deep, as it is along with Lough Leane, Ireland’s deepest lake.

Although visual sightings of a creature from Muckross lake have yet to be confirmed, some people have already christened it “the Muckross Monster” or more affectionately “Muckie”.

The echosounder trace showing something
very large under the surface of Muckross lake.

According to Dr. Fran Igoe “although the taxonomic status of the USO image has yet to be identified, it serves as a reminder of the hidden mysteries still lurking in Muckross and other ancient lakes in Co. Kerry.

We must work together to ensure that we look after these lakes properly not only for future generations to enjoy but also for the creatures that lurk within!”

Mr. Paddy O’Sullivan, Killarney National Park manager for the National Parks and Wildlife Service stated that “I am very excited by these findings and am delighted that the ancient fish community of these lakes are being examined by the Irish Char Conservation Group and scientists from around the world.

These interesting findings can only be good for Killarney from a public awareness and a tourism point of view. Whatever the “thing” turns out to be, it will be afforded our fullest protection under EU law as the Muckross forms part of a Special Area of Conservation.”

Support for the above surveys was received from National Parks and Wildlife, Heritage Office of Kerry Co. Council and the South Western Regional Fisheries Board.

Additional surveys are planned for September with the assistance of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Source:Irish Char Conservation Group Copyright 2003. ICCG ©2003


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