Tag Archives: UFO

The Mystery of the Flannan Isles

10 Apr

In the Outer Hebrides (a group of islands near Scotland), there is a small island chain known as the Flannan Isles. There are two main islands in this chain; Eilean Mòr and Eilean Taighe, and from 1895-1899, construction on a lighthouse took place on Eilean Mòr. No permanent residents have lived on the Isles since the lighthouse became automated in 1971. Overall, the island chain would be quite unremarkable if it hadn’t been for the mysterious and still-unexplained event that occurred only one year after construction on the lighthouse was finished.

Location of the Flannan Isles

Location of the Flannan Isles

After it was built, the lighthouse was operated by three men; Thomas Marshall, James Ducat and Donald Macarthur. Late in 1900, crew members of a passing ship noticed that something was amiss. The light was not on, which was especially strange given the poor weather conditions. They reported it to the authorities when they arrived at their destination, and a team was sent to the Flannan Isles to investigate. The team immediately realized that something was wrong when no one was there to greet them. All three of the lighthouse keepers had vanished.

The lighthouse on Eilean Mòr. Credit: Marc Calhoun (geograph.org.uk)

The lighthouse on Eilean Mòr. Credit: Marc Calhoun (geograph.org.uk)

The only other seemingly out-of-place thing was a chair that had been overturned in the lighthouse kitchen. Further investigation of the lighthouse and the island showed extensive storm damage to the west landing on the island, so at first, investigators thought that the men may have been washed away in the storm. However, they had kept logs of their activity right up until the morning that they disappeared (15th December), and the storm damage had apparently occurred sometime before this date.

The men were never seen again, and no bodies ever turned up.

Naturally, this strange occurrence led to wild speculation about what may have happened to the three men. Some alleged that one of the men had murdered the others, and then drowned himself out of guilt. It was also claimed that an enormous sea monster had taken them, while others blamed their disappearance on abduction by foreign spies. Some people also claimed that it was the work of malevolent ghosts, and modern theories mention alien abduction.

Some think that a giant sea monster took the men

Some think that a giant sea monster took the men

After an official investigation, the Northern Lighthouse Board came to the conclusion that the men must have been swept away by a freak wave while they were attempting to secure a box of equipment on the west landing, which was damaged in the previous storm (as recorded in their logs).

A more recent theory claims that a kind of geological formation known as ‘geos’ may have been to blame for the disappearance. A geo is an inlet or cleft in the face of a cliff, caused by wave erosion, and sea caves can form at their heads.

Eilean Mòr has many geos along its coastline, and the west landing of the island is actually situated in a geo. This geo terminates in a sea cave. In stormy weather, water could rush into the cave and explode out again. The theory holds that two of the men may have been securing the box on the west landing, while the other kept watch from the lighthouse. Noticing approaching waves, the watcher raced down to warn his colleagues of the impending danger, knocking a chair over in his haste to get out. Upon getting down to the west landing to warn them, he could have been washed out to sea by the water that exploded out of the sea cave, along with his two colleagues.

An example of a sea cave

An example of a sea cave

A very similar theory claims that one man may have been washed out to sea, and the other ran back to the lighthouse to get help. Upon attempting to rescue the man, both remaining men were washed out to sea by a second freak wave.

So, was the disappearance simply a combination of poor weather and bad luck, or did something far more sinister occur? We do know that when the men disappeared, the weather conditions were very poor, so I think that either one of the freak wave/geo theories would make sense. However, we will probably never know exactly what happened, so the mystery remains open to speculation.

Angikuni Lake

23 Mar

The remote Angikuni Lake lies in Canada’s northernmost territory, Nunavut, and has been the subject of urban legends and UFO conspiracy theories for quite some time. This is because for many years, it was thought to be the site of an unexplained disappearance. Not just one person disappeared, though; apparently, an entire Inuit village vanished.

Location Of Angikuni Lake in Canada

Location Of Angikuni Lake in Canada

The mystery began in the early 1930’s, when a fur trapper named Joe Labelle alleged that he often visited the village, but had gone back to find that everyone was gone. He claimed that it didn’t seem as if they had all just packed up and left, and that there was evidence at the site that purportedly showed how something awful must have occurred, causing the villagers to leave as fast as they could. This ‘evidence’ included his claim that there was still food left in pots over fires, and unfinished garments left with the needle and thread still attached. Several sled-dogs were apparently dead, and a grave was said to have been dug up. Furthermore, around the same time, another trapper named Arnald Laurent claimed that he and his son had observed a strange light crossing the sky, heading towards Angikuni Lake (they may well have seen something, but I think it was probably just a shooting star).

Shooting star. Credit: Navicore

However, unfortunately for all the conspiracy theorists, this is yet another mystery that has been more or less solved. Records from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police showed that at the time (1931), they considered the case to be… well, not actually a case at all. Investigations showed that there were some semi-permanent dwellings in the area that a group of Inuit peoples used seasonally, abandoning them for other areas at certain times of the year. There was no evidence that anyone had left abruptly, as claimed, but it is easy to see why the fur trapper may have been alarmed by the whole occurrence, as in his culture, people generally didn’t pack up and leave when the seasons changed. The other seemingly strange aspects of the story (eg. the dug-up grave) were probably the result of embellished re-tellings of the story over the years. Doubts have even been raised as to whether Joe Labelle had even been to the area.

So, sorry to all the mystery buffs out there, but it seems as if Angikuni Lake is yet another case that can be safely considered as an exaggerated story with a decent explanation.

For more information, check out Robert Columbo’s book ‘Mysterious Canada: strange sights, extraordinary events, and peculiar places’.  

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