Robert Rines: Bob Rines, Loch Ness Monster: The Scientist and the Monster

As dusk fell on June 23, 1972, Bob Rines was a former war hero, a noted MIT scientist, a celebrated attorney, and an accomplished inventor who’d spent his multiple careers following success with more audacious success. He was 49 years old, his legacy already assured. Then he saw the hump.

Rines and his wife had been enjoying the evening with Scottish Wing Commander Basil Cary and his wife, Winifred, at the Carys’ home on a hillside overlooking Urquhart Bay, on the northern shore of a remote Highland lake known as Loch Ness. After tea, Basil Cary stepped outside to the porch to smoke a pipe and saw something moving in the water below. "My dear," Rines heard Cary say, in what Rines describes as typical British understatement. "That couldn’t be an upturned boat."

Rines had visited Loch Ness the previous year, on a lark, to investigate the age-old reports of a large unknown animal living in the murky water. Like many scientists who’ve been drawn to the mystery of Loch Ness, Rines, a pioneer in sonar technology, was playfully skeptical of the monster stories. But he’d met enough eyewitnesses, and picked up enough unexplainable images on his sonar, that by the time he returned for this second round of searching, he was, at the least, open-minded. When Cary made his offhand pronouncement, Rines’s heart leapt into his throat.

The foursome dashed off the porch, through the yard, and across a two-lane road to a shoulder atop a steep bank that led to the loch’s edge. There, trading turns with a telescope and binoculars, they watched a large grayish hump with the texture of an elephant’s skin move across the bay. Rising at least 4 feet out of the water, the hump seemed to be about 25 feet long and attached to a creature of indeterminate size. Spellbound, they saw it plow against the current before it changed direction and began moving toward them. Then it submerged and disappeared.

The event would change Rines’s life. With the water still rippling from the creature below, he vowed he would confirm what he’d seen. No matter the beating his reputation might take. No matter how long the search would drag on.