Part 3 in our look at Lake Monsters. I had to split this up because every lake seems to have a monster in it and I can’t cover them all at once. Remember, if YOU have your own stories about any of the monsters, I wanna hear them.

Unless otherwise stated, all information below can be found on Wikipedia.

Today I take a look at NESSIE!

Yes, the one you’ve all been waiting for. The most famous of all lake monsters. Though the science community reports that Nessie is (at best) a modern day myth and (at worst) a hoax, believers currently hold that Nessie is a  plesiosaurs that has somehow survived to modern times. The legend of Nessie began in August 1933 when the Inverness Courier ran a story from a guy who claimed to have seen “the nearest approach to a dragon or pre-historic animal that I have ever seen in my life”, trundling across the road toward the Loch carrying “an animal” in its mouth”. Soon the local newspaper was being flooded with sightings and reports of similar creatures and encounters. It made national, then international news. The first reported photograph was published in the Daily Express in Dec.1933 and the Secretary of State of Scottland ordered the police to prevent people from attempting to attack the creature should it be spotted.

In 1934 the famous “Surgeons Photo” was taken and, though proven to be a hoax, it pushed the fascination with the supposed creature to the next level. Book after book was written of people’s personal accounts and, to further add fuel to the flames of belief, a book was published containing the writings of Saint Adomnán of Iona from the 7th century, who wrote an account from Saint Columbia, an Irish monk who lived in the 6th century. Yes, an account from the 500’s, written down in the 600’s, and published in 1934. According to Adomnán, Columbia and his companions were traveling through Pict country when they saw some locals burying a man by the River Ness. The locals said he had been attacked, mauled, and drowned by a “river beast”. Columbia sent one of his followers to swim the Ness and, when the beast attacked him, Columbia used the power of God to frighten it off.
Countless man hours and funding has gone into studying Loch Ness to uncover if the creature is real:

  • 1934 – A watch of twenty men with binoculars and cameras was set. For five weeks they watched and filmed the Loch. What they came back with was a picture of a grey seal. 
  • 1962 –  the  Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau (LNPIB) was formed to discover and study the creature. Members were charged an annual subscription and in 1969 LNPIB reported 1,030 members. They sponsored two sonar expiditions between 1967-1969. Both came back with what could be something living, 20ft long.  In 1970 they used submerged microphones to record what sounded like something using ecolocation to find food, and then swimming past the microphones. It closed its doors in 1972.
  • 1969 – Durring the filming of “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” where the worlds greatest detective searches for the Loch Ness Monster, the fake monster they used for the shoot accidently sunk to the bottom of the lake. A search crew decided to use this opportunity to test their new submersible and try to help find the wayward movie prop. Supposedly they got a sonar hit from something moving in the lake, but (as all of these things go) it swam away before they could investigate.
  • 1975 – based on some grainy photographs of what was thought to be Nessie’s fin (later concluded to be bubbles) Nessie official got the scientific name Nessiteras rhombopteryx because the picture looked like a diamond-shaped fin.
  • 1993 – scientists found what is called a seiche or standing wave, often caused by wind or seizmic activity and are normal in enclosed bodies of water. This wave causes an imbalance in water temperatures. In connection with these “waves” the experts found sonar contacts followed by a powerful wake, which basicly indicated that all the sonar contacts before were these underwater waves.
  • 2003 – The BBC sponsors a search using satallite tracking and 600 seperate sonar beams. It is definitively concluded that no such creature lives in Loch Ness.

Things misidentified as Nessie: Birds flying over the water, eels, an elephant (a guy in 1979 thought the Surgeon’s Photograph was the top of an elephant), local fauna, seals, trees, boat wake, optical illusion, seismic gas, a mythical creature called a “kelpie” which was a water horse said to trick people to ride it. It would then run them into the water and eat them.

Known Hoaxes:

  • In 1933 an Italian journalist decided to “beef up” his story about weird fish by claiming all sightings were actually the Loch Ness Monster. Why did he do this? Because he realized that a story about fish wouldn’t be very exciting to his readers. He later admitted to the “embellishment” in the 50’s.
  • in the 1930’s, Big game hunter Marmaduke Wetherell thought he had found the tracks of the creature and submitted them for science. Turns out they were made from an umbrella stand shaped like a hippo leg that some prankster had dragged through the mud.
  • Butt-hurt that the Daily Mail ridiculed him for his earlier claim, Marmaduke Wetherell got his son-in-law, Christian Spurling to help him orchestrate a hoax. Christian (a sculptor by trade) fashioned a head and neck out of plastic wood and they attached it to a toy submarine. They were clever to get friends of theirs to buy the materials for them at different stores and had a friend contact his friend, surgeon Robert Kenneth Wilson to submit the photos to the Daily Mail. Since Wilson did not want his name attached to the photo, it was forever known as the Surgeon Photo and it became the most famous picture of Nessie ever taken. To this day believers will argue that the picture is the genuine article and that claims to the contrary ( like Christian Spurling’s confession) are actually part of a cover up to hide the truth about the monster.
  • In 1972 police chased down a van containing the corpse of an unidentified creature and took the cadaver into custody. Apparently the team of zoologists driving the van didn’t know that removing “unidentified creatures” from Loch Ness was illegal. They had found the body floating in the water and The Press Association would later publish a description of the corpse as having “a bear’s head and a brown scaly body with claw-like fins.” In the end, it turned out to be a butchered and shaved bull elephant seal that one of the zoologists had dumped in the Loch to dupe the others of his team into thinking they had really found something.
  • lucyA television crew in 2004 created an animatronic plesiosaur (named “Lucy”) for their reality TV show, Crawley Creatures.  Lucy was operated by three divers using motorized pods and made an appearance at two locations filled with tourists and in front of a  cruiser near Fort Augustus. Despite Lucy sinking to the bottom of the Loch in an accident, the show was responsible for 600 new sightings of the Loch Ness Monster.
  • A video surfaced on YouTube in 2007 claiming to be Nessie jumping high into the air. Later, it was found to be part of Sony Pictures viral marketing campaign for the film “The Water Horse” and the YouTube clip contained scenes from the movie. [Disproven]