The Loch Ness Monster

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Loch Ness Monster

For all the beauty, attractions and delights of the area around Loch Ness, it has been famous for over 1400 years for one simple reason: it has a monster.

The first recorded sighting of the beast was in 565 AD, when it snatched up and ate a local farmer. When it returned for seconds Saint Columba, proselytising in the area, drove it back into the depths. Chastened by this encounter, "Nessie" has been reluctant to leave the waters since.

The Monster?

Although rumours spread after strange events in 1871 and in 1930, it was only in 1933 that the monster hit the headlines. In this year the construction of the A82 along the west bank of the loch involved much drilling and blasting, and it is believed that this drove the monster out into the open. In May 1933 Alex Campbell from Fort Augustus saw an unusual creature in the loch, and by July George Spicer and his wife had seen something even more unusual actually on the roadway near Foyers.

Quickly rechristened "Nessie" by the local newspapers, the monster was seen so often in the following months that in 1934 a full-scale expedition was mounted, but without success. Later in 1934, however, everything changed. A London surgeon, R K Wilson, took a photograph which clearly showed a sinuous head and neck rising from a humped body in the loch. Public interest was tremendous, and over the next 60 years each new photograph was studied and debated at great length. Several of the photos were inconclusive, several more undoubtedly false, but a number remain unexplained to this day.

In the 1960s manpower and technology joined forces to intensify the search, and the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau was formed. With the aid of still and movie cameras teams of spotters monitored the surface of the loch every summer for ten years, and recorded an average of 20 sightings each year. In the late 1960s the researchers ventured below the surface, first in mini submarines and then with the new sonar equipment. Sonar brought new levels of sophistication and accuracy to the search, with sonar-activated colour cameras recording images of the inhabitants of Loch Ness. Remarkable underwater photographs were presented to the public in 1972 and 1975, and were instrumental in raising public awareness and generating new interest in the monster. An interest which scarcely lessened when the subjects proved to be tree trunks or the bottom of research boats.

Since then several major sonar scans have taken place, and sonar contacts have produced exciting if unprovable results on several occasions. In 1987 Operation Deepscan covered the entire loch with 20 motor cruisers, creating a sonar envelope from which nothing could hide. Nessie, however, did.

Nessiteras rhombopteryx

A well-known naturalist and co-founder of the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau, Sir Peter Scott created the "official" name for the monster, meaning "the wonder of Nessie with the diamond-shaped flipper". By an unfortunate coincidence, this impressive appellation happens to be an anagram of "Sir Peter Scott Monster Hoax".

To this day there is no evidence, physical, photographic or scientific, to prove that a "monster" dwells in the loch. But many responsible and respectable observers, locals and visitors alike, are utterly convinced that they have seen an inexplicable phenomenon in the waters.