Loch Ness Monster (Nessie)
by the locals, is
dinosaur-like creature allegedly inhabiting
Loch Ness the largest
freshwater lake by volume in Great Britain.
Rumours of a
mysterious creature inhabiting the deep and foreboding waters of Loch
Ness are nothing new, in fact there are numerous references to the
elusive monster dating back over 1,500 years. It was during the
twentieth century, however, that sightings took an upswing as hordes of
tourists armed with expensive cameras descended on the once tranquil
lake in ever increasing numbers:
Kenneth Wilson, an English physician, is probably responsible for the
heightened interest and the deluge of visitors that followed when in
1934 he snapped what has become known as the “Surgeon's Photo” which
seems to show a head and neck indicative of a large creature emerging
from the lake's murky waters.
In an interesting aside, long-time
suspicions that the picture was a hoax were given a boost with the
alleged deathbed confession in 1994 of Christian Spurling the son in
law of Marmaduke Wetherell a big game hunter. Shortly after arriving at
the loch to search for Nessie, Wetherell had become the victim of a
children’s prank when he mistakenly identified fake hippopotamus tracks
as those of the monster. Humiliated and in order to exact revenge he
decided to perpetrate a prank of his own. Spurling along with a couple
of others was enlisted to build a Nessie model which was then taken to
the loch and photographed. The result was a photo which
was subsequently presented to a gullible world as definitive proof of
Nessie’s existence by Dr. Wilson whose profession Wetherell felt would
place him beyond reproach.
Arthur Grant a motorcyclist was
obviously unaware of the hoax when he narrowly missed hitting the
creature while driving along the loch’s northern shore. The monster was
purportedly crossing the road on its way back to the water.
in 1934 a young local named Margaret Monroe claimed to have seen a
large animal with a long neck, small head and flippers re-enter the
loch near a spot where she was walking.
at Loch Ness have continued through the decades with cameras no longer
the only device used to capture images:
In 1938 a South African tourist captured something swimming
in the loch on 16mm color film.
1960 engineer Tim Dinsdale filmed what some thought a hump (others a
boat) crossing the loch leaving behind a significant
wake. A later enhancement of the film, the intent to clarify the exact
nature of the object, only added to the controversy.
with the amateurs, came the professionals armed with devices of ever
increasing sophistication, their intent expose the loch’s most
intimate secrets, no mean feat considering that Loch Ness is 22.6
miles (36.3 kilometers) long, with a maximum width of 1.7 miles (2.7
km) and a maximum depth of 744.6 feet (226.96
In 1968 DG
Tucker a professor of engineering at the
University of Birmingham
chose Loch Ness as the site to test his new
sonar transducer. The underwater acoustic device was fixed on one side
of the loch and aimed at the opposing shore. The listening apparatus
would then “echo locate” any large object passing within range. Over
the following two week period numerous contacts were observed, some as
large as 20 feet (6 meters) in length traveling at 10 knots
In 1969 a New York Aquarium field researcher named
Andrew Carroll initiated a trawling scan of the loch from his research
vessel Rangitea which at one point resulted in a strong echo that
lasted for almost 3 minutes. Exactly what the mysterious contact was is
still unknown but later calculations placed its length at about 20
In 1970 Dr.
Roy P. Mackal an engineer,
cryptozoologist (later known for leading several expeditions
virtually impenetrable and largely unexplored Likouala swamp in
search of Mokele-mbembe)
used hydrophones (underwater microphones often
used to listen to whales, dolphins and even submarines) in an attempt
to hear Nessie but aside from clicks, chirps, knocks and a
swishing that might have been made by a flipper or tail they
came up dry. Efforts to communicate by playing back recorded sounds
produced no appreciable response.
Also arriving in 1970 Dr.
Robert Rines a renowned MIT professor, inventor of
high definition image scanning radar, holder of more than 60 patents
and founder of the Academy of Applied Science along with a
number of other high profile scientists. Their
expedition was to be long term, returning and searching for the elusive
cryptid  every summer for the following six years.
In 1972, using a
combination of sonar to identify large moving objects and an
underwater stroboscopic camera to capture the objects on film, they
recorded what appeared to be a large diamond shaped fin. In 1975 other
were released showing what appeared to be the body, head and long neck
of a creature that strongly resembled a plesiosaur, a large prehistoric
air-breathing animal long thought extinct.
The controversy soon raged from universities to the mainstream media,
concluding that the pictures were absolute proof of Nessie’s existence
while others maintained that objects that were originally something
else only appeared to resemble a large aquatic animal because
of extensive computer imaging.
In 2001 members of an Academy of Applied
Science research team took videos of a
V-shaped wake on what was otherwise the calm surface of the loch. Later
they also videotaped what appeared to be the decomposing body of an
expeditions were to follow each drawing its own conclusions, the one
mounted by the British Broadcasting Corporation in
being the most extensive of all time. Armed with 600 sonar beams and a
satellite navigation system to insure complete coverage they
the loch from one end to the other and from top to bottom and found
nothing; not one single sonar anomaly was recorded (actually
have been a mystery within itself, in order to perpetuate the species a
viable gene pool comprised of dozens if not hundreds of the
would be needed). The team’s conclusion, Nessie does not exist.
the monster bona fide, a hoax or just plain wishful thinking? Draining
the loch is probably the only way to know for sure and that's unlikely.
1975 British naturalist Sir Peter Scott grandly announced that Nessie
would from now on be known officially as Nessiteras rhombopteryx
is Greek for “The Ness monster with diamond shaped fin.” A Scottish
politician named Nicholas Fairbairn then dryly noted that it’s also an
anagram of “Monster hoax by Sir Peter S.” Dr. Robert Rines in quick
rebuttal replied that the letters could also be rearranged to spell
“Yes, both pix are monsters, R.”
 By comparison Lake Champlain, alleged home of the North American
cryptid the Lake Champlain Monster,
is 125 miles (201 km) long, with a maximum
width of 14 miles (23 km) and a maximum depth of 400 feet (122 meters)
and Lake Okanagan, alleged
home of Ogopogo the Lake Okanagan Monster, is 84 miles (135 km)
long, with a maximum width of 3.1 miles
(5 km) and a maximum depth of 761 feet (232 meters).
 The word “cryptid”
was devised by Manitoban John Wall and first used in the International
Society of Cryptozoology Newsletter, Summer 1983. It
to creatures that are hypothetical, presumed extinct or for which
there is insufficient proof to establish their existence with absolute
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