Frank Searle, who produced 20 pictures of the Loch Ness monster and did more than anyone to make it a major tourist attraction, died on March 26 aged 84 (Dominion Post, 7 July).
Searle claimed to have put in 20,000 hours of monster spotting, but most now believe he concocted his pictures using fenceposts, logs, tarpaulins and old socks. In 1985 he fled after police interviewed him about a petrol-bombing, and practically nothing is known of his life since.
Only the most ungenerous doubt that he set out with the best intentions, but he had little equipment and it wasn’t until 1972 that he recorded his first “sighting” – a two-humped creature according to some, a log to others. His other photos, over the next five years, included one which was shown to be based on a postcard of a brontosaurus. Searle also damaged his reputation with pictures of UFOs, and was reviled by other monster-hunters who said he was harming “genuine” research.