What is Cicap?

Bthemonster is Bennie the monster.

The CICAP or “Comitato Italiano per il Controllo delle Affermazioni sul Paranormale” (Italian Committee for Controlling Statements on the Paranormal) is a non profit, scientific and educational organization that promotes scientific and critical research on pseudoscience, the paranormal, mysteries and strange phenomena.

Bennie is more than a Legend!

The CICAP or “Comitato Italiano per il Controllo delle Affermazioni sul Paranormale” (Italian Committee for Controlling Statements on the Paranormal) is a non profit, scientific and educational organization that promotes scientific and critical research on pseudoscience, the paranormal, mysteries and strange phenomena.

«Daily newspapers, weekly magazines, radio stations and TV programs dedicate a great deal of attention to alleged paranormal phenomena, healers, and astrologists. Their general approach is non-critical, void of any control criteria. As a matter of fact, they usually make an effort to increase the sensational aspect of such events, which of course favors their company profitability. Consequently, we are launching an effort to inform and educate the public on such themes, in the name of more widespread erudition, critical consciousness, and scientific method based on evidence of analysis and the solution of problems».

In addition, currently there has been an increasing trend to spread out seductive ideas and pseudoscientific theories intended to support forms of therapy whose effectiveness has never been proven. The trend includes contemporary legends, conspiracy theories, and historical falsifications. Also in regard to these cases, the CICAP continues in its effort to uphold the application of the scientific method and the need to verify such data, and to promote correct and documented information.

We are accustomed to thinking that in documenting an abnormal or unexpected natural phenomenon an instrumental figure is always preferable to the mere eyewitness account: while a person is subject to biases identified by the psychology of the witness or can even come up with the episode, a technological device should instead be capable of recording the characteristics of an event is not open to interpretation doubts. This often leads the media to place great emphasis on this kind of documentation in reporting unusual events: but unfortunately the reality is often more complex than you might expect. 

Within the “natural history” of lake monsters, one of the most famous episodes of this it is undoubtedly the one dating back to December 3, 1954 which had as protagonist the helmsman Peter Anderson of vessel Rival III. The boat was crossing the Loch Ness directed towards the Caledonian Canal, when in the vicinity of the iconic Castle Urquarth the onboard sonar revealed a strange motionless object to more than 100 meters deep. He wrote the Daily Herald the next 6 December:

“The tip of the teletype began drawing a picture amazing saw the outlines of the monster to take shape under the keel of the vessel [Anderson’s] calculations showed that the object was 15 meters long and was lying in the middle of two rocky platforms. ‘I laughed at people who spoke of the monster in the lake, but I had never seen anything and I had gone through dozens of times. But I was there when suddenly the arm of teletype began drawing this thing on the paper roll. When the drawing was finished I could not believe my eyes. I yelled to the crew, who arrived in the wheelhouse. They were stunned as I was. We veered to try to even locate the “monster”, but without success. We thought of it scared ‘. ” 

Sonar track, where enthusiasts saw the outline of a kind of lizard humped by many appendices, was subsequently reviewed in a more careful and not slow to emerge particular suspicion: the Loch Ness is prevented from fishing for commercial purposes, and the mirror of water it was crossed by the fishing vessels only for power reach the areas intended for that purpose. That the sonar was operating is therefore something of an anomaly. The track then indicates that the object was detected for 6 minutes. At cruising speed indicated by the navigation data, about 10 km / h, this would have been over one kilometer long, while, as we have seen, Anderson had estimated a length of fifteen meters (compatible with improbable speed cruise of about 150 m per hour).

 Finally, the stylus of the writer could be safely maneuvered by a person in the mood to play a joke. Also in Italy, in recent years, have earned the headlines two separate incidents in which a possible lake monster has been documented by sonar: in both cases we refer to “Bennie”, the elusive monster of Lake Garda (also known by the name of Benaco) recently appeared.

It is in fact necessary to state that, unlike other lakes on the planet where folklore has produced an extensive tradition on the presence of strange animals in them, the Italian lake seems never to have been particularly rich in this regard. In his guide to the dragons and monsters in Italy (1986), for example, Umberto Cordier did not report any instance specifically linked to Lake Garda. The first reference to unusual animal presences in its waters that you can trace in the literature still appears in a work written around 1587 by the painter, writer and geographer saloino Bongianni Gratarolo (ca. 1530-ca. 1599), the Historia of the Riviera Salo published posthumously in Brescia in 1599. 

Gratarolo, dealing the Island of Garda (common today in San Felice del Benaco, in the province of Brescia), seems to be the bearer of traditions linked also to the Franciscan monastery which was then based there, writing that :

“This site [at the disappearance That chapel held a lighthouse, in the highest part of the island (notes)] some curious, desiring to know how much there was deep water (Which is known That there is very deep) with a rope They dropped down one, Which FACEA profession star below, as did Colapesce Napolitano in our days, since the days of ancient et Xerse Scilla Sicyon, who When he came down for a good while, he gave no sign That deriving a; It took him half dead with fright, and soon who once had said haver seen under the island in some caves oscurissime certain fishes, or rather to certain monsters monstrous, and deformissimi ended up dying. There are still brothers who say havere noticed under water, it ‘much Times warmer, et haverci seen Those monsters, et essersene so frightened, That they no longer dared to go back. “

Of These anecdotes, Which at the beginning of the last century the volume of Villas and castles in Italy dedicated to Lombardy and lakes did not hesitate to define as “scary stories”, we do not, However, other independent claims: the episode of ‘ freediver, Which However presumably he could see very little at a time When there were not any masks for diving, then Seems rather to be part of a legendary complex, as does the rest assumes the reference to the known legend of Colapesce.

Of a monster, the theme on the August release of 1965, when several Italian and foreign tourists signaled the presence of an unusual animal at Punta San Virgilio, in the waters of the Sirens Bay, on the Veneto side, in the town of Garda (VR) . According to a witness it was “kind of a big long snake about ten meters brown (and) four humps.” The case deflated rapidly and soon disappeared from the chronicles.   

Bennie, as we said today is called the supposed monster, is rather a recent phenomenon (still unknown to the German scholar Ulrich Magin when it was occupied in 2008 of the monsters of the northern Italian lakes, including Lake Garda]), which must his fortune mainly to Deep Explorers group (chaired by Angelo Modina) 

Toscolano in Brescia, thanks to some sonar contacts, recorded during surveys carried out in the Garda and deemed abnormal.

The first of these began to speak the local press 20 November 2012 in relation to the interest of the telecast Italy 1 Mystery: it was described as showing a “sinuous form [that] seemed to have his mouth open.” At the time, when one of us (LR) was interested in the thing, Modina very kindly sent a copy of this track. a side-scan sonar was used (side scan sonar), which emits a cone beam toward the bottom allowing the mapping. During this operation, any “targets” floats are also displayed on the correspondence, but their nature, in the absence of other information, remains unidentified. Specifically, with regard to living organisms, a sonar can say little on the form of the “target” and the strength of the signal does not necessarily reflect the size. This force, in fact, is essentially given by the ratio between the density of the object detected and that of the water, its real dimensions and its distance from the instrument. In fish, for example, the density of the meat of which differs little from that of water, the product signal has a lower strength than that originated from a marine mammal and is mainly due to the gas contained in their swim bladder. What a side scan sonar definitely can not do instead it is tell us if an animal hit by the beam was or was not open mouth, or draw its reliably form. It can thus reasonably be led to believe that “the giant eel” was nothing more than a school of fish, which normally produce signals form not dissimilar to those of the track.

The second “picture” of the monster (or rather, of the monsters), is published on 27 January by Brescia Oggi in his page dedicated to the Garda and was taken the same day by BresciaToday.it web site; in his view, he should have shown two huge fish of seven meters “immortalized” by the length of the sonar ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle, underwater remotely operated) Deep Explorers. However, by comparing the different sources it was noted some inconsistencies both on the conduct of the facts, and on the characteristics of the equipment used. Compared to the latter, in fact, the alleged silhouettes of fish appeared to have been detected very close to the ROV, and usually aquatic creatures move away from it because these small submarines are very noisy.

 Then it seemed strange that there were no video recordings, as these instruments are normally used increasingly active camera.  

The pitch was then forced to contact Modina once again, that with his usual kindness explained to us as to a series of misunderstandings newspapers had reported a version of events does not conform to reality. In fact, the sonar tracks had not been obtained by Deep Explorers, but from another Association, the Volunteer Group of Garda Salo (BS), which deals with civil and emergency services and has an internal protection a section specifically used the underwater research, it is responsible for Luca Turrini. Subsequently respondents, these have kindly released the following official statement: 

The trail, showing the two masses with similar forms in big fish was taken [in the area between Punta del Vò and Port of Padenghe, near Brescia, author’s note] from a rotating sonar head of the Garda Volunteers screen and published in a jokey on social networks as being similar to an image of large animals placed on the bottom. In reality, the masses were motionless sonar for several minutes and then inspected with the camera placed under the same sonar revealed the nature of the masses of seaweed accumulated by local currents.

The hype and the publicity given to this they must in our desire for sensationalism local newspapers and the captatio benevolentiae of some operators and scholars of the field of cryptozoology that in any case they knew the real nature of framed masses.

The reason why there has not been taken before the direct position on our part, the authorship of the image and its real attribution, is mainly due to the fact that the opportunity for the resumption sonar was the search for a person It dispersed, which captured some much more our attention with respect to allegations of specific “inhabitants” of the Garda. However we felt that now the matter has been too exploited by industry enthusiasts, giving it a meaning so improper that it can not remain silent over the truth “

So here we had explained the inconsistencies detected: sonar had been lowered into the water with the help of a cable. However, as we have seen, the target was detected non-animal origin and therefore, even if it were mounted on an ROV, the noise would not have had any effect.

So no mystery: just a curious looking sonar track.

But if we had not deepened, the reality of what happened would not, forgive the pun, it never emerged. One thing he would always remember, even for other events like that.

N. B. This article is based on an earlier, Lorenzo Rossi, appeared on Query Online on 9 February. We would like to thank Angelo Modina, the Group of Garda Volunteers (especially Luca Turrini) and Sofia Lincos. 

Translation of original text. Bthemonster.


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