The Great Glen in the Scottish highlands is a rift valley 60 miles long and contains three famous lochs; Lochy, Oich and Ness. Loch Ness is around twenty two and a half miles long and between one and one and a half miles wide. It is deeper than the North Sea at 754 feet with a flat bottom. It holds 263 thousand million cubic feet of water or 16 million 430 thousand million gallons of water with a surface area of 14000 acres and could hold the population of the world 10 times over. It is fed by 7 major rivers the Oich, Tarff, Enrich, Coiltie, Moriston, Foyers and Farigaig plus numerous burns, with only one outlet the River Ness which flows 7 miles through Inverness into the Moray Firth 52 feet below the loch surface. Loch Ness never freezes because a thermocline lies around 100 feet below the surface. The top water temperature alters depending on the weather conditions but below the thermocline the temperature never varies from 44 degrees Fahrenheit. The mysterious steaming across the loch is due to heavier cold water falling below the thermocline and being replaced by the warmer water from below.
Nessie is a mystical creature that reputedly inhabits the largest freshwater lake in northern Scotland, Loch Ness . The most common speculation is the creature represents a line of long-surviving plesiosaurs. Although its existence has never been proven scientifically, eye witness accounts describe the cryptid as a large pre-historic sea creature. Nessie remains the most famous example of cryptozoology first reported on 2nd May, 1933 by a water bailiff called Alex Campbell. Later the same year a tourist and his wife reported a dragon like animal crossing the main road as it made its way to the loch. They described a four feet tall animal with a 25 feet long body and“undulating” 10- or 12-foot neck. The couple also said they saw an animal in the beast’s mouth possibly a small lamb. Soon other claims of sightings followed.
Reports of a monster in the remote Scottish Highlands were enough to attract the attention of the general public. British newspapers sent reporters to Scotland in search of additional testimony and proof the monster’s being. Marmaduke Wetherell , celebrity game hunter was engaged and discovered enormous tracks he thought belonged to a creature at least 20 feet long.
Plaster casts were taken and sent to the Natural History Museum in London for verification. These were found to be a hoax.
The first purported photograph of the monster was published in the Daily Express on the 6th December 1933. Robert Kenneth Wilson was a London gynaecologist refused to have his name associated with the photograph and the paper dubbed the it the the Surgeon's Photograph .He reported taking four photos but only two came out clear. The first one with the small head and back became the iconic image and for many years was regarded as the best evidence of the monster’s existence.
It took another 60 years to reveal the true origins of the Surgeon’s Photograph. Ninety year old Christian Spurling, (Marmaduke Wetherell step son) admitted he had colluded with Wetherell and Wilson to produce a hoax photograph.
In 1933 Bertram Mills, circus empresario offered a £20,000 reward to anyone who could capture the monster for his circus. It remains unclear whether Mills could afford the reward but it did start a landslide of interest. Reports of a monster in the Loch meant there was prize on Nessie’s head and this attracted the attention of armed hunting parties to the remote location. Local concerns were such Inverness-shire Chief Constable William Fraser wrote a letter to the newspapers in 1938, stating as it was beyond doubt the monster existed he believed his power to protect the monster from the hunters was "very doubtful".
Local man, Hugh Gray took a picture in 1933 which depicts a creature with a long grayish neck that tapers into a thin head rising out of the water, followed by two humps. Despite the photograph being published the quality was generally poor and eventually dismissed by most. Gray was a well known practical joker which only added to skeptics’ dismissal of the evidence. More recently the photograph has been analysed in detail and may indeed be genuine.
Still gripped in monster fervor R. T. Gould published his book, The Loch Ness Monster and others in 1934. Gould’s work included collected records of additional reports pre-dating 1933. The earliest recording was AD 565.
There is a tale about St Columba who saved his companion Luigne moccu Min when he was chased in Loch Ness by a beast. It is recorded in Adomnán’s Life of St. Columba, the Saint made the sign of the Cross and commanded: "Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once." The beast immediately halted as if it had been "pulled back with ropes" and fled in terror.
Sightings of the Loch Ness Monster pre-1933 were rare, but did exist. Doctor D. Mackenzie of Balnain wrote to Robert Gould in 1934 to say as a young man he had witnessed an object that looked much like a log or upturned boat wriggling and churning up the water. The object moved slowly at first, then disappeared off at a faster speed (circa 1871). Sightings of the monster increased following the building of a road along the loch in early 1933. This brought both workmen and tourists to the formerly isolated area. In the same year Arthur Grant was on his motorbike and claimed to have nearly hit the creature while approaching Abriachan on the north-eastern shore of Loch Ness. It was a moonlight night and Grant was sure he saw a small head attached to a long neck.
More sightings, photographs and filmed encounters followed. A South African tourist G. E. Taylor in 1938 took a three minute 16 mm colour film. The film was never shown publically but a still was published in The Elusive Monster (1961) by Maurice Burton. Some experts thought the photograph was genuine but because it was never open to more detailed scrutiny like many reports it was dismissed as inconclusive. In 1951, Lachlan Stuart, a local Forestry Commission woodsman took a picture of what appears to show three humps moving in the waters of the Loch. Thirty years later it was revealed the humps were thinly disguised bales of hay covered in tarpaulin in another elaborate hoax. The Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau was formed in 1961and sporadic land sightings continued until 1963.
Many sonar attempts had been made but most were either inconclusive or negative. In December 1954, the fishing boat Rival III made sonar contact with a large object at a depth of 146 metres (479 ft). It was detected travelling for 800 m (2,600 ft) before contact was lost then found again. In 1961 two submarines with sonar experts on board was used but were unable to locate Nessie. They did however find a vast underwater cavern at 950 feet deep. Many speculate the elusive Nessie might use this as a hiding place. In 1975 an American-based expedition used underwater photography and special sonar to examine the Loch Ness. The underwater camera was able to take images of a moving object that had flippers. Based on these photos some scientists concluded that the 20-foot long creature was possibly an ancient reptile that became extinct with the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.
One of the most interesting videos of the Nessie was taken in 2007 by Gordon Holmes, a 55-year-old lab technician. Considered to be one of the best filmed evidence to date the absence of other objects in the video does make comparisons impossible. Other evidence includes a sonar image taken in 2011 of an unidentified object considered to be 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) long which apparently was following the boat of a local fisherman for two minutes at a depth of 23 m (75 ft).
George Edwards, a cruise boat operator, claimed a photograph he had taken in 2011 displaying a hump out of the water was genuine. On first inspection the photograph appeared genuine but closer scrutiny confirmed the so called monster was a fibreglass hump previously used in a National Geographic documentary that Edwards had participated in. Later he freely admitted to the hoax defending his actions as ‘ramping up interest in the Loch Ness monster and attracting people to the area.’
In 2014 after “Official Registrar of Loch Ness Monster Sightings reported no sightings of the creature had been recorded in 18 months. This was the first time since 1925 so much time had passed without a confirmed sighting claims, many feared the Loch Ness Monster was dead. Then Andrew Dixon who was browsing an Apple map of the Loch saw what appeared to be the monster close to the surface of the loch. Possible explanations for the image were it could be the wake of a boat, a seal causing ripples or a floating log. Some even believe the image was Photoshopped using an image of a whale shark. Closer inspection did also reveal the image bore a close resemblance to a Loch Ness-based cruise ship called the Jacobite Queen.
Most scientists consider it impossible for a dinosaur like creature to survive for millions of years unseen. Most sightings are simply explained away by floating logs or unusual waves. Loch Ness is fed from the Moray Firth in the North Sea via the River Ness. The sea is frequented by porpoises, dolphins and whales and seals and dolphins have been filmed in the loch many times. In the last three decades independent scientists have used sonar and satellite imagery to scan every inch of the loch and found 'no trace of any large animal living there'. The Loch Ness monster however is estimated it to be worth in the region of £50 million per annum and more than 500,000 tourists travel to the area every year in the hope of sighting the beast. Reason enough them to keep the secret of Loch Ness secret.
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