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Loch Ness Monster

The hoaxed 'Surgeon's photo'

The Loch Ness Monster legend usually refers to the purported existence of a large plesiosaur-like creature that lives in Loch Ness, a large lake in Scotland near the city of Inverness. "Nessie" is generally considered to be a lake monster. In July 2003, the BBC reported that an extensive investigation of Loch Ness by a BBC team, using 600 separate sonar beams, found no trace of any "sea monster" in the loch. The BBC team stated that it is now conclusively proven that "Nessie" does not exist [1], although this 'proof' makes the assumption that "nessie" is air-breathing, and also fails to provide explanations for a remarkable number of sightings over many decades.

Table of contents
1 History of sightings
2 Reference
3 External links

History of sightings

Loch Ness is one of a series of interconnected, murky lakes in Scotland that were carved by glaciers during previous ice ages. Quite large and deep, it features exceptionally low water visibility due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil. Rumours of a monster or animal living in the loch have been circulating for at least several centuries, although to date there has been no convincing evidence to that effect. Many local inhabitants still argue strongly for its existence. Some skeptics suggest that this may be because the rumours of 'Nessie' underpin local folklore and the tourism industry.

Most accounts of the monster's appearance, including historical ones, indicate a creature with a striking resemblance to the long-extinct plesiosaur. Actual fossil evidence for this prehistoric creature shows it to have been physically large, with a long neck and tiny head, and flippers for propulsion. The alleged connection of this creature with the Loch Ness monster has made it a popular topic in the field of cryptozoology. However, most scientists suggest that the idea that it is a remnant of the prehistoric era is not plausible—there would need to be a breeding colony of such creatures for there to have been any long-term survival, and this would result in far more frequent sightings than have actually been reported. Many biologists also note that the lake simply is not large or productive enough to support even a small family of these creatures.

The majority of other theories as to the exact nature of the Loch Ness monster are considerably less sensational. The sighting of disturbances in the water caused by seals, fish, logs, mirages, and light distortion, crossing of boat wakes, or unusual wave patterns have all been proposed. Very large sturgeon have been found in inland streams close to Loch Ness and, due to sturgeons' size and unusual appearance, one could easily be mistaken for a monster by someone not familiar with it. A recent theory postulates that the 'monster' is actually nothing more than bubbling and disruptions in the water caused by minor volcanic activity at the bottom of the loch. This latter argument is supported (to a minor degree) by the correlation between tectonic motion and reported sightings.

'Monster' sightings have occurred as far back as 1,500 years ago. The earliest known reference is from the Life of St. Columba; it describes how in 565 he saved the life of a Pict who was being attacked by the monster in the River Ness. (The reliability of the Life is illustrated by the preceding story, in which Columba slays a wild boar by the power of his voice alone.1) Documented (where?) descriptions of 'Nessie' exist as far back as October 1871, where 'D. Mackenzie' described seeing something that moved slowly before moving off at speed. People who saw 'the monster' described it as having a hump (sometimes more than one) that looked like an upturned boat.

The first modern sighting occurred on May 2, 1933. The newspaper Inverness Courier carried a story of a local couple who reportedly saw "an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface." The report of the "monster" (a title chosen by the editor of the Courier) became a media sensation, with London papers sending reporters to Scotland and a circus even offering a reward of 20,000 for capture of the monster.

Later that year, A.H. Palmer, who allegedly witnessed 'Nessie' on August 11, 1933, at 7 a.m., described the creature as having its head, which they saw from the front, set low in the water. Its mouth, which had a width of between twelve and eighteen inches, was opening and closing; its opening size was speculated as being approximately six inches.

The modern preoccupation with the Loch Ness Monster was aroused by a photograph allegedly taken by surgeon R.K. Wilson on April 19, 1934, which seemed to show a large creature with a long neck gliding through the water. Decades later on March 12, 1994, Marmaduke Wetherell admitted to staging the photo after being hired by the Daily Mail to track down Nessie (the photo had by that time, been printed worldwide as 'absolute evidence'). Wetherell also stated that Wilson did not take the photo and his name was only used to give added credibility to the photo. The year before another conspirator, Christian Spurling, made a death-bed confession to helping with the hoax.

In the early 1970s a group led by American patent lawyer Robert Rhines obtained some underwater photographs. One was an image of a rhomboid flipper (or perhaps the fin of a fish). On the basis of this they announced in 1975 that the scientific name of the monster would henceforth be Nessiteras rhombopteryx.1

Regardless of whether anything is actually in the loch, the Loch Ness monster has some significance for the local economy. Dozens of hotels, boating tour operators, and merchants of stuffed animals and related trinkets owe part of their livelihood to this monster although people visit the loch for many reasons other than to see the monster. Hence the legend is likely to endure for quite some time.

See also: Sea monster, Champ, Lake Tianchi Monster, Ogopogo


External links