Loch Ness Monster

One of the most well-known, talked about, and searched for cryptid in history is the Loch Ness Monster, otherwise known as Nessie. It is a large animal that is claimed to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. Its description has varied from each account over the years from when it was first heard of in 1933. Many reported sightings, photographs, videos and sonar images have been released since, but there has been no proof of existence to date.

The most common belief for Nessie is a creature similar to a plesiosaurs. However, the scientific community believes the Loch Ness Monster is just a myth, and sightings and evidence reported have been labeled as mis-identifications, hoaxes, and wishful thinking.

The actual history of the monster began in the seventh century writing about Saint Columba. A man had been swimming in the River Ness and was attacked by a water beast that mauled him and dragged him under. They tried to rescue him but all that was left was a corpse. Columba sent a follower in the river and the beast came after him. Saint Columba made the sign of the cross and commanded, “go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once.” The beast stopped and fled. A manuscript of this account was posted online in 2012.

In 1933, modern sightings began with George Spicer and his wife. On July 22, they reported an extraordinary animal crossed the road in front of their car and headed toward the Loch. They described it as being about four feet high and 25 feet long. It had a long narrow neck about ten to twelve feet in length. They did not see the lower portion of the creature because of the dip in the road.

In August of the same year, a motorcyclist named Arthur Grant reported almost hitting the creature while approaching the north-eastern shore around 1 AM. He claimed he saw a small head attached to a long neck on the creature. When the creature saw him it returned to the loch and only left ripples in the water.

A letter from Chief Constable William Fraser in 1938 stated that it was beyond doubt that the monster existed. The letter was written concerning a hunting party armed with a harpoon gun wanting to catch the creature dead or alive. The letter was released on April 27, 2010 by the National Archives of Scotland.

In 1943 C. B. Farrel of the Royal Observer Corps claimed he was distracted from his duties by a large-eyed creature with fins about 250 yards away. The body was about 20 to 30 feet long and its neck stuck about 4-5 feet out of the water.

In December 1954 the fishing boat Rival III made sonar contact with a large object at a depth of 480 feet. It kept pace with the boat for a half mile. Contact was lost, but later reestablished.

Photographs and film of the creature have been released. The several photographs were taken in 1933 by Hugh Gray but only one was viewable after they were developed. It appeared to be a creature with a long neck and thick body with flipper like appendages. Critics suggested it was a dog with a stick in its mouth swimming toward the camera.

The most publicized photo of the Loch Ness Monster was called the Surgeon’s photograph. It had been taken in 1934 by Dr. Robert Kenneth Wilson who didn’t want his name to be associated with the photo. The uncropped photo was analyzed and was believed to be an object being towed and actually was quite small, only 2-3 feet in length. Other explanations of the photo are an elephant with its trunk out of the water, an otter, or a diving bird. In a book The Surgeon’s Photograph Exposed it was claimed that the monster in the photo was a toy submarine with a sculpted head attached.

In 1938 a South African tourist, G. E. Taylor filmed something in the loch. The footage was in the possession of Maurice Burton but he refused to release the footage to investigators. Only a single frame of the film has been released. It was published in the book The Elusive Monster.

In 1960 an aeronautical engineer, Tim Dinsdale, was searching for the creature, and on his last day, filmed a hump crossing the water. He described it as reddish brown with a blotch on its side. Critics have stated that when the contrast is increased it looks like a man sitting in a boat.

In 2007 Gordon Holmes took a video that he said was a “jet black thing, about 45 feet long moving fairly fast in the water.” The footage was described by Adrian Shine from the Loch Ness 2000 centre in Drumnadrochit as “the best footage he has ever seen.” Critics have suggested the footage is a beaver or otter swimming.

On August 24, 2011 a local boat skipper photographed a sonar image of an unidentified object. The sonar depicted a long five foot wide object following the boat at a depth of 75 feet. A scientist stated that it was a bloom of algae and zooplankton after viewing the image. But, Ronald Watson, a cryptozoologist, states that algae and zooplankton need sunlight to survive and at a depth of 75 feet in the Loch, sunlight is virtually absent.

On August 3, 2012 skipper George Edwards published a photograph he claimed to have been taken on November 2, 2011. The photograph shows a hump out of the water which Edward claims that was there for five to ten minutes. Edwards says he spends 60 hours a week on the lake in his boat named the Nessie Hunter IV. He takes tourists for rides on the lake and has searched for the Loch Ness Monster for 26 years. The photograph has been scrutinized because of the location of the sighting and actual location on the photo, and the weather on the photo and actual weather on that day was contradictory.

A five minute video was claimed to have been taken on August 27, 2013 by a tourist David Elder. It shows a mysterious wave being moved by a 15 foot solid black object which was just under the surface.

There have also been many expeditions searching for the creature but none have produce conclusive evidence.

In 1934, 20 men with binoculars and cameras were around the Loch from nine in the morning until six in the evening for a five week period starting on July 13, 1934.

The Loch Ness Investigation Bureau studied the Loch, reports, and sightings from 1962 – 1972. Professor D. Gordon Tucker assisted the organization in 1967 and 1968. A sonar device was placed at Temple Pier, which would detect any movement that passed by. During a two week trial in August, multiple hits were recorded of a 20 foot object rising then diving back to the bottom. However, it never surfaced.

A press release stated: “The high rate of ascent and descent makes it seem very unlikely that they could be fish, and fishery biologists we have consulted cannot suggest what fish they might be. It is a temptation to suppose they might be the fabulous Loch Ness monsters, now observed for the first time in their underwater activities!”

While filming The private Life of Sherlock Holmes, the rented submersible Pisces had a dummy monster break free from the sub and sink. At one point while exploring the Loch, the Pisces picked up sonar of a large object moving 200 feet in front and 50 from the bottom of the Loch. When the pilot moved closer, the object rapidly disappeared.

In August and October 1970, underwater microphones were placed around the Loch sealed in 44 gallon drums. When they were retrieved and the data analyzed, knocks, chirps and turbulent swishing were discovered. The sounds would stop when watercraft passed over and resume after the craft was gone. The sound record bared no similarity to any other aquatic species.

Robert Rines did studies in 1972, 1975, 2001, and 2008. Taking underwater photographs with equipment that had a high powered flood light attached. If something showed up on the sonar he would turn on the light and take pictures. Several of these pictures did indeed show an object resembling a plesiosaur-like animal. In fact one photo depicted two images that suggest there are two of these creatures in the Loch.

In 2001 an object was videotaped on the floor of the Loch resembling a carcass. It had marine clam-shells and fungus-like organisms attached to it that are not normally found in fresh water. This suggests there is some connection to the sea.

In 2003, the BBC sponsored a full search of the Loch. They used 600 separate sonar beams and satellite tracking. No animal of any size was detected and the scientists admitted that this proves the Loch Ness Monster was a myth.

Explanations for Nessie include mis-identifications of other animals like birds, eels, elephants, otters, and seals. There also has been speculation that Nessie could be trees floating, optical illusions, and some suggest the release of seismic gas.

Image Caption: A recreation of the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland. Credit: Starablazkova/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)