The New Yorker:

A Boston inventor attempts to find the most famous—and most elusive—aquatic beast in the world.

By Larissa MacFarquhar

The first and only time Bob Rines saw the Loch Ness monster was June 23, 1972. He was fifty years old, a patent lawyer from Boston, and had been a monster hunter for two years. He was sitting at tea with his second wife, Carol, and their friends Wing Commander Basil Cary and his wife, Winifred, at the Carys’ cottage on the shore of the loch. About five o’clock in the afternoon, Basil Cary walked out to the porch to fetch his pipe. Shortly thereafter, the others heard him shout, “I say, that can’t be an upturned boat!” They leaped to their feet and rushed outside. Cary was running off the porch, telescope in hand. “Grab the binocs!” he called back as he ran. Rines snatched his Super-8 camera and hurried across the road in front of the house to a sloping field that looked directly onto the water. There, moving through the loch, was a large, darkish hump, covered, as he could see through the telescope, with rough, mottled skin, like the back of an elephant. Using a fishing boat moored across the bay for comparison, Rines and his companions estimated the hump to be about twenty-five feet long, and four to six feet out of the water. The hump moved out on the loch against the wind current, turned around, headed back in their direction, and then suddenly, in front of them, submerged. “The hair went up on the back of my neck,” Rines says with a happy sigh, recalling that afternoon. “I’ll never forget it as long as I live. My God, at that moment I knew there was something in there. I knew it was an animal! And that’s what’s kept me going all these years.”

Twenty-eight years later, Bob Rines is still looking for the monster. But he is no Ahab: he is not one of the men who have devoted their whole lives to the quest. Rines is a sportsman, a gentleman monster hunter. He is a longtime fisherman, and the Loch Ness monster is the biggest, the grandest, the most famous, and the most elusive fish in the world. The hunt, for Rines, is an endlessly complex and seductive adventure game, whose delight is not limited to the almost unimaginable prospect of capturing the monster herself. The game consists also of the slow refinement, over decades, of the hunting equipment; the isolation and solution of intricate technical problems; and the debates, with his companions, over the merits of various combinations of underwater cameras, lights, microphones, sonars, and lures. Rines is not an amateur when it comes to such matters. He was trained as a physicist and engineer at M.I.T., and as an undergraduate he invented a type of high-definition sonar equipment for which he was inducted into the Inventors’ Hall of Fame. A modernized version of another of his inventions guided Patriot missiles during the Gulf war, and has been used to find large objects submerged underwater, such as the Titanic.

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