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What is the Loch Ness Monster?

Posted by: Nick Redfern on November 8th, 2011

Nick Redfern, blogger on our sister site UFOMystic, manages to stir things up when his articles are posted here at Cryptomundo.

See: Nick Redfern on Monsters and Proof
And: Nick Redfern Further Expounds on Monsters and Proof
And: Nick Redfern: Proof of Bigfoot
And: Nick Redfern: Beware of the Big Gray Man
And: Winged Weirdies in Texas?

Here’s Nick’s latest:

Lair of the Beasts: What is the Loch Ness Monster?

Polling Nessie

Two-hundred-and-fifty-million years ago, movements in the earth’s crust led to the creation of a huge rift across Scotland that, today, is known as the Great Glen. As the centuries passed, the deeper parts of the Glen filled with water, and it now exists in the form of three main bodies of water: Loch Oich, Loch Lochy, and Loch Ness. For more than a century and a half, they have been connected by the sixty-mile-long Caledonian Canal, which provides a passage for small boats from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.

By far the largest of the three lochs is Loch Ness. Nearly twenty-four miles in length and almost a mile wide, it contains more water than any other British lake and at its deepest point, extends to a mind-boggling depth of almost one thousand feet.

Surrounded by trees, mountains, and filled with water as black as ink, it is little wonder that Loch Ness is viewed by many as both a magical and a sinister location. And as practically anyone who has ever marveled at the mysteries of our world will only be too well aware, the loch is the alleged home of Nessie – arguably the world’s most famous lake monster.

But what, exactly, are the beasts of Loch Ness? That is, not surprisingly, a question that provokes a great deal of controversy. Indeed, just recently over my blog There’s Something in the Woods, I polled the readers on what they thought Nessie – or, rather, the Nessies – might actually be. The results were as mixed as they were intriguing.

Of the many people who voted, a full twenty-five percent believe that the Loch Ness Monsters are plesiosaurs – marine reptiles generally accepted as first having appeared in the early Jurassic era.

On the other hand, six percent were sure that the most likely candidates for whatever lurks within the darkened depths of Loch Ness are monstrously huge, giant eels. Of course, the idea that Nessie is just an eel might disappoint some people, and particularly Scotland’s tourist industry, which pulls in millions of pounds in revenue each year from the sale of Nessie-themed t-shirts, caps, tea-cups, flags and much more.

But, if you’re faced with a thirty-foot-long eel, with a body the thickness of an oil-drum, heading towards you at high speed, you’re probably not going to quibble with the idea that this is a true monster!

Interestingly, more than a quarter of the people polled concluded that there is nothing strange, unusual or monstrous within Loch Ness at all, and that all of the reports can be explained away as misidentifications (of waves, of logs, and of large fish of a known nature, such as sturgeon), hoaxes, and not much else.

I also found it interesting that more than one in ten of those who responded to the poll suggested that rather than being animals of a flesh and blood nature, Loch Ness’ creatures of the deep have nothing less than paranormal or supernatural origins.

The overriding majority of all those who voted, however, concluded that whatever the nature of the beasts of that old, mysterious Scottish loch, they were – in all probability – animals that were definitively real, but that represented creatures presently unknown to mainstream science and zoology.

So, what does all of this tell us? Well, of course, no poll can accurately offer a definitive explanation for anything. But, if nothing else, what the results of this poll do tell us is that even within the realms of monster-hunting and cryptozoology, there are major differences of opinion on what does, or indeed does not, live within the confines of Loch Ness, Scotland. The mystery remains precisely that: A mystery.

Nick Redfern About Nick Redfern
Punk music fan, Tennents Super and Carlsberg Special Brew beer fan, horror film fan, chocolate fan, like to wear black clothes, like to stay up late. Work as a writer.


41 Responses to “What is the Loch Ness Monster?”

  1. Survivor16 responds:

    I’ve always loved the story of the Loch Ness Monster, but paranormal? really?..

    Okay. Personally think that’s ridiculous. It’s a lake. I love the idea of something mysterious living in Loch Ness, but I strongly believe that it’s NOT Paranormal.

    Moving on, Monster Eels don’t seem too illogical. It would fit what we see on Gordon Holmes video he took in 2007. But believe me, I’d love for it to be a Plesiosaur as much as the next guy.

  2. Cryptidcrazy responds:

    When I was a kid, I always believed in the Loch Ness monster, but two things changed that, when I read that the “surgeon’s photo” was a fake and the biggest factor of them all, when I read that the lake also had another known “out of place animal”, which are seals. In all the lake monster books that I read in the 70′s and early 80′s, none mentioned that Loch Ness was also the home to several rogue seals. Once I read this and actually saw footage of the creatures frolicking around the lake in some recent television shows, it all made sense. I believe, that is why sightings have been so rare in the last few years, people now realize that what they are seeing, is actually a seal or a small group of seals.

    This is not to say, that I do not believe in lake cryptids in general. I still believe that unknown animals reside in Lake Okanagan and several other lakes around the world.

  3. springheeledjack responds:

    Well if I don’t weigh in on this, I don’t know what else I would…

    I’ve heard and read all the theories to date. As for the debunkers, let’s get this out of the way: rolling waves, seiches, logs, rotting vegetable matter, optical illusions on the water, otters, ducks, deer, beavers, tourist trap conspiracy…does that about cover it?

    Those are all well and good and most can explain a number of the misidentifications over the years…however, they do not account for the other percentage of sightings.

    As for eels, I don’t buy into it. Eels are fish and swim side to side. There are accounts of humps and Nessie undulating…not the same thing. Eels also do not account for the head and neck sightings (no I do not buy the ‘eel swimming on its side at the surface and sticking its head and neck out–that’s more ridiculous than there actually being an unknown critter in the loch). Eels also don’t grow to the kind of size that’s being reported.

    As for the paranormal aspect: While it’s interesting as a theory, I think we’re dealing with something flesh and blood. Having read the reports, looked over the evidence and so on, i think we’re dealing with a real critter, not a projection.

    I do not believe we are looking at plesiosaurs either. While it has been theorized that they could have survived, your regular plesiosaur was basically a surface feeder (at least according to the latest dinosaur-ology), and would have been content on the surface.

    Now, there was recently evidence unnearthed…I think Antarctica…where plesiosaurs were found in the fossil record in cold climates–such that they could have survived in waters that weren’t tropical. I buy that…even from our fossil record, we still don’t know the detailed physiology of the dinosaurs to say with certainty that they were unable to live in cold conditions-especially if Robert Bakker’s theories are on the money. Let’s face it, dinosaurs were pretty much like humans in one regard–they adapted to almost every environment on the planet.

    Now, what do I personally think? I think we’re dealing with a creature that has evolved over time to adapt to fresh water, colder temperatures and that spends a fair amount of time underwater…or at least does not have to bring its entire body to the surface to breathe. I think we’ve got a creature with a long neck, and has adapted to a water environment, though it’s capable of coming ashore for short periods (Nessie has been sighted on land no less than 17 times). I’m assuming it’s mammalian because a few of the eye witnesses have reported features resembling hair or fur or a mane.

    Most of what I said fits the description of a long necked pinniped. Whether it’s a descendant of the plesiosaurs or just an animal that adapted to its environment a long time ago and survived the earth’s changes, I’m not sure, but that’s where my money’s at right now. Flippers have been seen, and even the land sightings have given clues about that–that it has kind of shuffled or lurched across the ground like a seal would.

    While people scoff at the mammal / long necked seal theory because of it being an air breather, there’s plenty of ways to account for that. Breathing air–again, all it would have to do is stick its nose to the surface to breath, it wouldn’t have to surface.

    Ness is about a mile across…you try to see the nose of even a thirty foot critter breaking the surface from the shore line, especially on a day when the water’s choppy…heck even calm, it would take looking in the right spot at the right time.

    Secondly, as much as people make the mistake of thinking there’s no wilderness left unexplored on the BF front, the same thinking occurs at the loch. It’s 24 miles long, a mile wide and boats go up and down it every day. There are also homes around the loch…therefore there’s no place it could hide and we would have seen it by now. Baloney. Yes there’s boat traffic (and Alex Campbell, the water bailiff has seen it several times on the water, as one example), and there are plenty of homes around the loch (there were 8 good accounts in the 1930′s of it being seen on land–1934 a Ms. Margaret Munro observed an animal almost clear of the water for 25 minutes), but having said that, there is still a huge amount of ground that is uninhabited and plenty of places for such critters to lay about on the surface or even shore without being actively seen.

    We forget that the area around the loch is not densely populated–it’s not a big city where everyone has their eyes on the loch 24/7. Statistically, it would take a large group of people (and at least probably six shifts of people) stationed around the loch and continually looking with GOOD binoculars and cameras for an extended duration to get some really quality evidence.

    As for my vote, yes I’m in on the long necked pinniped. I don’t pretend to have all the details worked out for its physiology and behavior, but so far that theory is the closest to matching all the descriptors and eye witness testimony and secondary evidence.

  4. Jason Feather responds:

    I suspect the same geological features of the glen that lead to earth lights & associated phenomenon in the area (percieved time slips, sense that time has stood still, fantastical visions eg abduction reports) also lead to visions of the loch ness monster. The possible mechanics of visions caused by geology & environment are discussed by Paul Deveroux in his book ‘Earthlights’. I suspect this is the case for quite a few anomalous animals where all we have are subjective reports (shared visions are possible if we allow the work of Darryl Bem who’s work supports the idea of telepathy). A biological creature large enough to exist in the loch couldn’t be supported by the fish stocks unless such creatures also have access to the sea & just visit the loch!

  5. Redrose999 responds:

    I’m in the long necked pinniped camp. If the Loch Ness Monster exists and isn’t one of the above mentioned debunking theories, than an unknown pinniped would cover most of the sightings. I originally thought it could be a sturgeon, it would cover many of the sightings save for the land ones.

    I will say, I don’t support the paranormal for cryptid sightings. Animals don’t want to be seen in general, and can hide well.

    By the way, wasn’t there a speed boat accident attributed to the Loch Ness Monster and I haven’t seen this mentioned at all with sightings or debunking.

  6. mandors responds:

    There have been repeated anomalous sonar contacts in the loch, measuring if I recall over 8 feet in length (maybe up to 16?), so I think there is some animal there. My understanding is that even finding large sturgeon would be zoologically significant. (I know plesiosaurs are much sexier, but…)

    That said, I have believed for quite a while that the Crypto crowd really needs to separate itself from the Paranormal and the UFO sets. In terms of public perception there is, or should be, a big difference in simply searching for undocumented animals on one hand, and either 1) talking or seeing boogymen or 2) being abducted by little space men that probe you, on the other.

  7. Loren Coleman responds:

    I searched and could not find Nick Redfern’s initial polling choices/list. You know, having been employed as a full-time university researcher, I always question polls and methodology. In other words, because Redfern writes of supernatural answers, you are going to find more of his readers open to such choices. Furthermore, it is well-known that the British bias is for a marine reptile, whereas Americans tend to be pro-mammalian candidates (e.g. Long-necked seals, ancient whales).

    Was the pinniped hypothesis even a polling choice? And if so, what was that pick’s position on the list?

  8. silverity responds:

    Well said, springheeledjack.

    Most of the loch is obscured from traffic by trees, and not many houses face the loch – and even then no one is intently staring at the loch while they go about their daily routines.

    Add on top of that the creature’s propensity to stay underwater in a loch as dark as ink and you have a recipe for elusiveness.

    I also think the creature stays away from noise such as that generated by boats. You would have to dredge the loch to coax it out!

  9. springheeledjack responds:

    RedRose999, yes there was a speed boat accident on the loch. It was on an episode of In Search Of. Can’t remember the guy’s name, but he was racing his boat because the loch is so long and straight (basically) when his boat came apart. There was conjecture that he hit something in the water, and I have it in my head that at one point on his trek there was a line or trail in the water near his boat, but I haven’t seen it in a while so I could be mistaken. But I do remember that the loch was pretty calm that day (from the footage–no I wasn’t there) and I don’t think they ever did deduce what exactly he might have run into.

    Loren–I’m with you on that too. It may not have been a choice in his poll. I wasn’t aware of the ethno bias on reptiles vs. mammalians, but that’s interesting. Guess I’m a product of my culture too considering my position.

    As to Nick, I’m not against the paranormal response to some of the cryptids roaming around, but I take the perspective of, if it is mental projections or dimensional bleed throughs or projections, there’s really just no way to follow up on that other than being in the right place at the right time to perceive one. Though from that perspective a lake or loch would at least be a better environment to look for cryptids should they be paranormal because they at least seem tied to a specific area–the particular lake or loch.

    As for me, I still feel there’s enough untrod ground (and water) that we’re dealing with the physical. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–I don’t believe humans “is” so superior and smart that they’ve got everything on the planet figured out, and that it is very very very possible there’s things living alongside us that we have no clue about…yet.

  10. springheeledjack responds:

    I did forget the sturgeon angle…thanks RedRose999!

    For me the sturgeon doesn’t cut it either. It would solve some of the hump in the water sightings, but sturgeons are plated and look rather bone-ey in my estimation. Descriptions of even humps in the water have been reported as smooth and really humped (upturned boat). A sturgeon’s back would not stick that far out of the water unless the entire critter were on the surface. And again, its look wouldn’t match the eye witness descriptions.

    And the sturgeon also does not account for head and neck sightings. So, I’m out on that too.

  11. Hapa responds:

    I think that, based on the evidence, there are several different “Loch Ness Monsters” out there. The traditional “Nessie”, if it exists, could be anything from a plesiosaur, or Zeuglodont/Basilosaurus-type toothed whale, and so on. But no doubt many other animals have played a part in the creation of the mythos. The following is a list of the unusual beings seen in the Loch:

    Hippopotamus
    Giant Eels
    Alligator
    Giant Salamander
    Giant Fish
    Camel/Horse hybrid (seen two, possibly three times in the Loch, over the span of several hundred years)

    For the Camel/horse hybrid, when i imagine what such a hybrid would look like (without modern Biological Chimera creating abilities, impossible), The animal that keeps popping up in my head is a Moose without antlers: the high shoulder, the dark color (similar to some horses), and the head, whose face has some if little resemblance to those of Camels and horses (the front of the mouth going downwards compared to the rest of the face), combined with the relatively thin legs (as described in one of the sightings of the hybrid in question), makes me think of a Moose, yet Moose were absent in Scotland during the times these sightings happened. I cannot explain the hybrid.

    The giant fish were probably both the rare Sturgeon, Wels Catfish (both of which are enormous, and the former prehistoric in natural history and appearance), while some appearances of the long necked Nessie might have been circus elephants taking a swim in the Loch while in town (Plesiosaurs, by the way, could not hold their heads and necks up like a swan:it would break their necks bones. They were very limited in how far they could raise their heads and necks, and could not be bent swan-like.)

    The traditional Plesioraurid Nessie, if a Plesiosaur, would be one that has developed over the millenia to have the ability to arch its neck and head like a swan, something not encountered before in the fossil record, but which could come about naturally over millions and millions of years through natural processes. It would not be like the ones of yore.

  12. scaryeyes responds:

    It was John Cobb who was killed on Loch Ness trying to break the water speed record in his boat Crusader in 1952. He hit an anomalous wake on the water at such high speed that his boat disintegrated. The Loch Ness Project located the wreck of Crusader on the Loch bottom a few years ago. One of the Nessie writers – I think Dinsdale, but it might have been Holiday, ‘fraid I don’t have the books in front of me – did speculate that he hit a Nessie wake, but I think later investigations have concluded the wake probably came from one of his own support boats, which had crossed the loch against orders just prior to his run.

  13. springheeledjack responds:

    Thanks Scaryeyes…I didn’t feel like going back through my vids to find out the name:) Yes, it’s one of those unanswerable questions now…did he hit something solid or a wake? At the speed he was going, even a small wake could have taken the boat out, and with what we know now about seiches and waves bouncing back and forth from one shore to another, that was certainly a plausible explanation.

    silverity–yes, there have been several accounts of it reacting to sound, and even from far off (Alex Campbell talked about it hearing a ship approaching before it actually saw it and that its head was turning back and forth apparently looking for a source, and there was an account where a car door slamming was enough to send it back down into the depths). With the loch as dark as it is, I would guess good hearing would be an adapted trait…and possibly some sort of sonar or echo location…in Lake Champlain a woman (yeah, I know can’t remember names–but I have the show in my archives…) who was using sonar and thought she was picking up something down in the lake using sonar or echo location as well (traditionally a whale trait, but who knows depending on adaptation).

    Made me think though–does anyone know about theories on sea going dinos and whether it can be deduced whether they had echo location? It began somewhere and evolved with the whales…could it have been exclusive to whales or did plesiosaurs and other sea going critters have the capability too?

    As for possibilities…I don’t know about the hippo account–I know Duke Weatherall used an umbrella stand that was from a hippo’s foot to make his famous casts along the shore for his hoax. Alligators wouldn’t last long in those waters and would have to have been put in there. And the camel / moose–while I could see someone mistaking that for Nessie for a few brief seconds, neither would duck under water at any length, but would be swimming for one shore or another. As for the others, all those animals could fall into the range for a few isolated reports and misidentifications, but there’s just too many other odd sightings.

    We’re talking about a creature that has been seen to swim quite fast. The upturned boat phenomenon is a predominant feature. The head and neck sightings knock out most possibilities (I’m not sure if camels can swim, but even if they can, they’re probably not going to be too far out of the water, despite their long neck, and since they’re an animal not built for water, my guess is the first thing one would do if it landed in the water was to make for shore), the wakes moving against the wind rule out land dwelling creatures and so on.

    The long necked pinniped is still my odds on favorite.

  14. springheeledjack responds:

    I’m with mandors too–at this point I don’t see cryptozoology and the paranormal as in the same arena. I think that’s where cryptozoology has been relegated on a lot of fronts–a “fringe” science, but I don’t put it there and I’m not for keeping it there.

    I think you can look at any unknown and throw it into the realm of the supernatural, but really what does that mean? All it really means is that the supernatural or paranormal is kind of a catch-all for anything that we’re not really sure just what the heck is going on. It’s when we start to learn how things work that they become “accepted science” or accepted by the populace at large.

    Communicators on Star Trek were “science fiction” in the 60′s and now practically everyone walks around with a cell on their person and our cell phones can do a hundred times the things Kirk’s communicator could…(no, not a trekkie, it’s just a good reference:). The same for science in general and medicine for that matter. Diseases used to be caused by “spirits” and such and now it’s accepted that there are viruses and bacteria (maybe potato or po-ta-to depending on your philosophical background, but we won’t go down those waters here…).

    I guess my point is, I’m for keeping it “real” for the cryptids and hunting for living, breathing, swimming animals–at least until Nick can teach me how to hunt down thought forms to my satisfaction.

  15. watn6789 responds:

    The seal stories and pictures are remarkable. It is pretty amazing that they make it navigate through/around the canal gates?? They certainly fit well to stories of large dark things on the land. It is weird that they arent talked about more in reference to the loch. The so called inability of a plesiosaur to ‘swan’ is an exaggeration as the it is clear that they can ‘s’ their neck and they can tilt their bodies… Having seals certainly opens up the channels of thought…

  16. silverity responds:

    I don’t think seals were viewed as anything extraordinary by people in older times. London Zoo has had seals on display since the beginning of the 20th century.

    Some “modification” of the witness data is required to make seals a credible explanation since witness describe something a lot bigger than your standard grey seal which is only 2m long and a lot less of this would show above the surface.

    Grey seals also do not display anything like the long neck attributed to Nessie.

    An interesting explanation for a small proportion of claimed sightings but nothing more.

  17. Nick Redfern responds:

    Loren:

    In your comment, you wrote: “You know, having been employed as a full-time university researcher, I always question polls and methodology. In other words, because Redfern writes of supernatural answers, you are going to find more of his readers open to such choices.”

    You’re asbolutely right. In fact, I noted this very issue in a previous poll I did – on Bigfoot – at my blog. Here’s what I wrote in relation to the poll results concerning those who voted for Bigfoot having paranormal origins:

    (QUOTE FROM MY FROM MY BLOG): “One might argue that because my views on Bigfoot are somewhat alternative in nature, this might mean people who share my views tend to gravitate more to this blog than to one which caters more for those who view Bigfoot as a purely flesh-and-blood creature. The result: More votes for the paranormal theory than one might be inclined to see elsewhere.” (END OF QUOTE.)

    I’m absolutely certain that goes for the Loch Ness results too. If the same Loch Ness poll was prepared for Cryptomundo, I’m certain the results would be far less paranormal inclined. That in itself is interesting, and demonstrates how polls really don’t tell us much of value in terms of the subject of the poll. But they do tell us a few things about people.

    On that point, as I note towards the end of my Loch Ness post on the poll: “…no poll can accurately offer a definitive explanation for anything.”

    Polls can be interesting, but at the end of the day, when we are specifically dealing with an unsolved mystery, all they really do is demonstrate one thing: the lack of a firm answer ensures lots of theorizing and opinions. And that’s about it.

    Re you not being able to find the original poll: when the polls are closed and I have written the results into the form of a blog post and commented on the results at length in the post, I take the original polls down, since they are closed. But, it’s no hassle for me to leave them up if people want to see them. I’ll probably do another in the next few days.

  18. Redrose999 responds:

    Thank you to both Scaryeyes and Springheeledjack.

    Springheeledjack, I remember the In Search Of episode. They had two of them I think, and I can’t seem to find the exact footage they used online. I seem to recall, the angle they used showed something sticking out of the water, and the boat hitting it. I don’t recall it being a wake from another boat. I could be remembering it wrong of course, since memory fills in the gaps over the years, but my husband also recalls it that way as well.

    Scaryeyes, you are right, it was Cobb and I looked for videos of the accident and none of them were the angle used in the episode. I wonder if we can find a copy of the episode. Yes, wake from another boat makes sense and is more likely, but it also leaves it open to being a wake from something else since the thing causing the wake is off camera. It’s still interesting and can be debated still.

    Springheeledjack, I used to think it was a sturgeon until someone pointed out that many of the sightings in the Middle Ages were land based sightings. Sturgeon and eels are not capable of climbing up on land (though a giant eel like lungfish could), but a seal is.

  19. bobzilla responds:

    The Loch Ness “monster” has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. Being a big dinosaur and prehistoric animal enthusiast (still am today) I always wanted it (them) to be plesiosaurs. Plesiosaurs and other marine reptiles from the Mesozoic were not dinosaurs. I know lots of folks here know that, but I just wanted to state that.

    The Loch(s) were formed way before plesiosaurs even existed, so unless there’s underground tunnels to the ocean (which I know people have stated) they couldn’t be our beasts.

    Nessie suffers from the same afflictions bigfoot suffers from. Lots of hoaxes. The “Surgeon photo”, the altered flipper pics, altered sonar pics, etc. Some researches want a particular result and seem to do anything to get it, which is unfortunate when trying to find out the truth with real facts.

    I think, as others have said, lots of folks are seeing various things, so it’s hard to make a composite sketch of one particular “suspect”.

    I think the evidence needs to be separated into similar groups (almost like taxonomy) based on similarities in the descriptions. Then, we can see the various results and work from there. We will most likely discover that some are dead ends, some end in known animals, some end in logs, waves, etc., and some end in a mystery that needs further investigation.

    That’s my two cents…

  20. flame821 responds:

    The waters of Loch Ness aren’t just dark, they are full of particulate matter, especially in rough weather. (ie, just this side of a peat bog) I would think that echo location would be absolutely necessary for any large predator living in those waters.

    As for the availability of food there are, as always, conflicting studies. Some showed a great deal of biodiversity and lots of ‘feeder’ species that would support a small to moderate population of largeish predators, others have shown that the loch is nearly bereft of those same feeder species. My personal guess is the findings depend entirely on where you are looking. Some areas of the loch may well be unable to sustain manageable food chain while others are healthy and diverse (think desert vs farmland). The fact that the loch has been able to support local populations of humans for centuries tends to make me think there has to be a decent amount of food under those waters.

    As for what Nessie actually is? While many sightings, particularly by tourist and other people who are going there to ‘see’ a monster and are not familiar with the area, may be nothing more than misidentifications of known and natural phenomena you certainly cannot dismiss them all in such a manner. Especially when you consider how long Nessie has been being sighted. As for reptile vs mammal; reptiles would need less food resources but that water is effing cold and I would expect to see more reports of Nessie sunning herself. Mammalian makes more sense, environmentally, however mammals require much larger food resources to keep up our body temperatures and I would expect them to need a decent layer of blubber to keep warm, particularly so if they spend most of their time in deep water.

    Whatever they are they are going to be unique to the environment of the loch. I don’t think they migrate back and forth to the sea due to the biological difficulties inherent in doing so. The only way around this would be if there are two distinct forms of Nessie; such as juveniles using the loch as a safe haven and leaving it when they mature and reach breeding age. This might also explain why some years there are massive amounts of sightings while other years show none. It would depend how successful the previous years offspring were.

  21. DWA responds:

    Of course I was gonna check in sooner or later.

  22. DWA responds:

    (And of course I was gonna put the first post above as part of a longer post. Don’t ask me; computers do strange things when you hit the wrong key. Feel free to combine the two and drop this if you’re puzzled.)

    What may have tipped the balance in terms of my cryptid interest:

    1) First exposure to Bigfoot: a balanced treatment of the evidence in National Wildlife Magazine, a very mainstream publication, shortly after the P/G film was made public.

    2) First exposure (that I can remember) to Nessie: the “Surgeon’s Photo.” My first reaction (and I was a child): toy brontosaur in a bathtub!

    But I’ve seen other photos that had me scratching my head. (And thinking “plesiosaur,” if I had to judge by them alone.)

    Hapa hits the core of my concern: people are seeing a whole menagerie of critters in and around Loch Ness. Yeti/sasquatch reportage seems to have a strong internal consistency. Not so Nessie.

    But other than what I just said: I couldn’t tell you what it is.

  23. silverity responds:

    Nessie is a definite side/bottom dweller by nature. Surface appearances are very much contrary to the norm, so what propels “her” upwards and even make the very, very rare forages onto land is a bit of mystery.

  24. watn6789 responds:

    You can see dolphins pretty much any day where I usually go to the beach. It is not uncommon for people to say shark when they are in the water with dolphin around. There are sharks too yet the misidentification is worth noting.

  25. springheeledjack responds:

    RedRose999–thanks. I thought I was nuts…I only have one footage from the In Search Of account of the boat, but I was positive there was another angle on it and what I remember was a line in the water alongside the boat that then intersected across the path of Cobb’s boat. Still can’t find it, but at least I know I’m not completely crazy.

    Bobzilla–the loch was formed but for a time it was connected to the ocean and I think it was about 10,000 years ago it was closed off–from the last ice age I think. So for a span of time it would have been possible for critters to get stuck there. Along with this, it has been noted before that there are a series of lakes and lochs along a particular latitude line where there are similar creatures reported, and the lakes have similar qualities of being colder climate and deep. Not sure what it all means, but it’s interesting.

    Flame 821–I’m with you on the peat in loch ness…I think it makes a great argument for the ability of echo-location…and if that possibility is true, it would make it extremely easy for creatures to avoid boats and ships and so on…helping them hide. I’ve ready multiple studies too on the food availability in the loch–Discovery did a show several years back and they concluded that there was a lot more food than what they’d previously thought and that it would support a higher predator. In addition to that, Loch Ness if fed by rivers and there are salmon feeding the loch as well…so to my mind, it’s a done deal.

    And DWA–see, I think I was reading stuff on Nessie so that the surgeon’s photo got lumped in with everything else. While it was always interesting to me, that photo never quite sat well with me–the head was too small from what I’d read from other accounts, and the neck proportion didn’t look right for a critter 20-30 ft long…and so on. So I wasn’t particularly crushed when the flap came about–however, Loren has pointed out several times that the supposed “death bed confession” about that picture being a hoax was also a myth. Either way, I do not believe the existence of Nessie hinges upon that one picture. It’s everything else.

    I think the big problem is that every time a hoax surfaces, it gets more press than the actual sightings and the general populace (and by that I mean all the people who don’t read all the accounts or have a a big ole library of books and vids behind them) figure that oh it must really be just tourist trappings for t-shirts. Hoaxes tend to overshadow the real evidence that is there…and then you’ve got your naysayers who always jump on the band wagon.

    I can live with it.

    Silverity–I think it spends time below, but present known seals can hold their breaths and stay down for a long time. Basking on the surface is a common behavior, and the accounts of NEssie on land suggest to me that it was either basking in the sun on the shore, or it was seen moving to the loch. I don’t know if that means it was foraging ashore for some reason, or what, but there have been theories that Nessies have traveled over land to other bodies of water. Who knows?

    I kind of agree with your thought process–if it is a side or bottom dweller, I don’t know that we would have as many sightings at all unless there was some behavioral reason for it to come to the surface–chasing food perhaps. But if it was a bottom feeder, it would probably be feeding on eels and fish (not much vegetation at the bottom at all), and wouldn’t need to come up to the surface, let alone the shore…unless it was doing so for breeding purposes…and if that were true I’d think we’d have a lot better pattern of sightings–and Nessie while seen most in the Spring and Summer months, is occasionally spotted throughout the year. I think it’s seen more during the summer because there’s simply more people on and around the loch.

  26. Joanie responds:

    I always enjoyed Ivan Sanderson’s consideration of Nessie being a neotonous slug or something. Been a while since I read it. He linked the tatzelwurm and Nessie in some way, as being an overgrown juvenile creature that lurked in dark places and had no bones to speak of. Solves several problems.. no need for a breeding population, because the normal adults would be small and common… no bones, would sink to the bottom and rot when it dies… can eat underwater plants… and it explains some of the sightings of big shiny beasties that crossed the road. Kind of fun to ponder on!

  27. Kopite responds:

    I go with the large eel or large fish theory, if there is anything there at all. The first modern reports didn’t come to light until the early part of the last century although there was a reference to some large fish in the late 19th century I believe. Contrary to the myth though there isn’t a catalogue of consistent sightings stretching back to St Columba’s time. Loch Ness didn’t have any more of a catalogue of centuries old sightings than any other Scottish Loch with all their water kelpie stories.

    As somebody who knows the loch well (I’ve camped on its shore many times and walked its entire circumference) there is zero chance, in my opinion, that it could be an air breathing critter. Too much of the loch is highly visible from many different spots (yes even along the road). If it were an air breather often coming to the surface this mystery would have been solved long ago.

    So I’ll stick with monster eel or fish with most of the sightings being wishful thinking, mistaken ID etc etc.

  28. fmurphy1970 responds:

    As a Scot who lives not too far from Loch Ness, I would love it to be a plesiosaur, but is extremely unlikely. Convergence in evolution has demonstrated that body shapes and features can be repeated across divergent species and animal classes. (e.g. body shape of a Ceratopsid dinosaur shares many features with a modern day rhinoceros.) It is not inconceivable that there are mammals out there that share features of a plesiosaur. A long necked seal would certainly look plesiosaur like and would fit many of the eyewitness descriptions. Another possibility is that Nessie is related to Cadborosaurus. The earliest Celtic stories about the creature of the loch, describe it as a ‘Water horse’, a water spirit said to inhabit many lochs in Scotland. Some eyewitnesses have also described it’s head as being like a horse or a sheep. From what we know of Caddy, it’s head is also horse like in shape. Another piece of evidence towards the Caddy theory is that for hundreds of years creatures have been sighted off the Orkney and Shetland Islands which are very Caddy-like, long neck, horses head, front flippers etc. My own personal opinion is that Ogopogo of Lake Okanagan in British Columbia is the same type of creature as Caddy, but has adapted to a fresh water lake environment. Could it be that nessie is related to Ogopogo?

    The other theory which I think is a possibility is that Nessie is a giant slug type creature currently unknown to science. Some eyewitnesses have described how it’s body changes shape as it moves. Others have described horn like appendages on the top of it’s head, similar to those of a snail or slug. Such a creature would rarely need to come to the surface and probably spend a lot of it’s time on the bottom of the lake.

    Which is more likely? Well seals are a known animal already, so it seems the most likely. Next would be Caddy. Hopefully one day we will find out.

  29. silverity responds:

    Well, I haven’t quite made my mind up as to what it is – every theory has its flaws – but I am sure there is something big and mysterious down in those waters!

  30. silverity responds:

    “Loch Ness didn’t have any more of a catalogue of centuries old sightings than any other Scottish Loch with all their water kelpie stories.”

    I think there is a book out that challenges that theory.

  31. red_pill_junkie responds:

    As always, great comments by all above.

    Nessie seems to be one of those cryptids that’s plagued with ‘inconveniences’. If pinniped, then it should be seen more often breathing air, and the loch would not be able to support a large constant population. Also, mammalians tend to be very aggressive and territorial —I’m thinking of elephant seals lunging in combat with other males to safeguard their harems— so whatever Nessie is, it’s a perfect example of congeniality with other members of its species! :)

    And then there’s the problem with the skin. The accounts in which the witnesses were able to take a good look seemed to indicate it had a very rough texture, which make some people speculate Nessie was a giant slug or something —but then, we’re again confronted with the speed reported by fishermen in the loch.

    And with the eel-or-sturgeon theories, we can’t explain the land sightings. And so on and so forth.

    I don’t know. At this point in my life I tend to give an ‘equal share’ to all possibilities; including the possibility that Nessie is nothing but folklore. However, I’m very happy when I get to read a new sighting account every now and then ;)

    In my heart of hearts I would love for Nessie to be a giant prehistoric animal (reptile or mammal, I’m not picky!) that migrates to the loch through some secret underwater channel system. But so far I don’t see evidence for that.

    But I’ve always been annoyed by the moronic presumptions of some ‘Nessie hinters’ that jump to a motor boat in search of the famous beastie. Puh-leaseee! Get your fat ass aboard a damn sail boat with no engine and *maybe* you’ll get a glimpse of the creature; otherwise you might as well follow Mr Burns’ plan.

    :P

  32. Kopite responds:

    I think there is a book out that challenges that theory.Silverity

    No, it doesn’t really. Many lochs in Scotland had water kelpie legends. Loch Ness wasn’t unique.

    There really isn’t a consistent catalogue of sightings that go back century before century to St Columba’s time. I’ve looked into this closely. There really isn’t anything persuasive before the 20th century. And even the St Columba fairy tale was centered on the River Ness and not the Loch.

    The Loch Ness Monster was really a 20th century mystery, which would actually correlate well to a freak sized eel or fish because they can live a long time and still be with us today.

  33. silverity responds:

    “No, it doesn’t really. Many lochs in Scotland had water kelpie legends. Loch Ness wasn’t unique.”

    I disagree because I have conducted my own studies too. The Loch Ness Kelpie is the most mentioned creature in the pre-1933 literature. It’s not just a matter of whether it gets a solitary mention in one dusty book, but how many.

    How many times did you find in comparison that the Loch Morar Water Horse was mentioned in pre-1933 literature or the ones in Loch Treig, Loch Awe, Loch Rannoch, Loch Fadda, etc, etc, etc?

    What do you make of the phrase from 1890 that Loch Ness was full of Water Bulls?

    Of course, legends do not prove whether a strange animal is irrevocably there (let alone its identity) but it does weaken significantly the argument that Loch Ness didn’t rise above its fellow lochs in Highland story telling.

  34. springheeledjack responds:

    I think it’s safe to say that the Loch Ness ruckus really began in the early 1930′s with the Spicers account and the building of the road along the loch. Whether it stirred something up, whether it was because more people were suddenly traveling loch side, or whether it was that people outside that area finally took notice who knows but it was then that Nessie reared its head (figuratively and physically), and became part of the culture and the folklore. There may well have been more reports before this time, but if so, no one came forward (and here too this doesn’t prove that there was no creature before this time, but that it was not reported–why? Who knows–maybe it was because few saw it and never reported it, maybe it was just accepted that it was there and no one thought twice).

    I think because Loch Ness was not unique in reports of water cryptids doesn’t take anything away from Nessie–if anything, from what I’ve read, there are several lochs that have histories of critters–now whether this is because maybe there was a population that spread to other bodies of water, or perhaps there just have always been similar critters in the area or whether other lochs got confused with Ness and the stories just brimmed over to other places, again, who knows. But, Loch Ness definitely has something going on, and I’m convinced it’s a physical critter.

    The air breathing thing doesn’t bother me–I’ve said multiple times throughout my life at Cryptomundo that it’s a huge body of water and there are not eyes on the surface everywhere. It would literally take a large number of people stationed at dozens of vantage points 24/7 seven days a week to be able to competently say they’ve seen everything happening on the loch’s surface. And since we don’t know the physiology of whatever’s in there, it is highly probable that the critter doesn’t have to completely surface to breathe, which in turns means it might only have to stick its snout out of the water. And with the loch a mile across, you’d have to be able to see a small point where a creature brought its snout to the surface to breathe–Nessie has proven shy of noises and such over the years.

    In the end, there are lots of possibilities…and probably more that we haven’t explored yet…while I’m willing to put money on the long necked pinniped right now doesn’t mean I’ve completely negated the others. I will keep an open mind as evidence continues to roll in and shift my theories the more info I get…until we figure out what and which it is…

    thank you and good night.

  35. Troodon56 responds:

    In my opinion, Nessie, as well as most other lake monsters, is most likely to be an evolved plesiosaur. By “evolved”, I mean that it has evolved into a new form, sometime during the past 65 million years. At the end of the Cretaceous period, it is possible that a few plesiosaurs might have survived the extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs. Then, a few of them might have gotten trapped in Loch Ness, and formed a breeding population, there.

    Critics of the plesiosaur hypothesis often claim that plesiosaurs could not raise their head and neck up out of the water, in a swan-like fashion, like Nessie is often depicted as doing. Well, that doesn’t matter. The thing is, that those skeptics are forgetting about something very important. You see, I believe that Nessie is not really a prehistoric plesiosaur, but, instead, a descendant of the plesiosaur, that is highly modified, from the prehistoric ones.

    Maybe plesiosaurs evolved echolocation. As someone else previously stated, echolocation would almost be a necessity, if the creature were to track down its prey, in the peat-stained, murky waters of the Loch Ness. In 1970, an expedition led by Dr. Roy P. Mackal recorded sounds in Urquhart Bay that were very similar to echolocation.

    Over time, the plesiosaurs could have evolved a different neck structure. Also, critics often assert that plesiosaurs could not survive in the frigid-cold waters of the Loch, because they were cold-blooded reptiles. However, the thing is, we have no evidence that they were cold-blooded, at all, in the first place! In fact, I think that they were more probably warm-blooded, just like we now know most dinosaurs to have been.

    And, so, this is my defense of the plesiosaur theory, which I subscribe to. I still keep an open mind. However, as of now, the plesiosaur seems to me to be the most likely theory, and, so, for now, at least, my opinion is that the Loch Ness Monster is most likely to be a surviving Plesiosaur. Cheers! :)

  36. flame821 responds:

    @ Troodon56

    My problem with that theory is the fact that many of the lakes (including Ness) are glacial lakes. This means that they were created by the movements and pressure of the huge Ice Age glaciers that covered the land. There could not be relic aquatic animals (or evolved descendants) if the lake wasn’t there for them to survive in. During the latter part of the Cretaceous Period the average temperature of the Earth was the highest on record, much of the land was underwater and the continents weren’t exactly where they are now. During the Cretaceous there were literally forests extending almost to both Poles. Now while the Plesiosaur did survive during the cooler Jurrasic I believe that was due to the stability of water temperatures at different depth levels. (although current theories have them pegged as shallow water feeders, while I tend to agree with bottom feeder theories).

    So unless the Plesiosaur actually survived being trapped in a frozen tomb and reanimated as the ice melted and filled in the lakes (unlikely, but several species of fish and frog can do this) I don’t think the Plesiosaur as Nessie is a likely bet. I would think either a mammal of some sort (seal, monster otter-sorry had to say it) or eel would be a more likely choice going by what we know at this time.

  37. Troodon56 responds:

    I have now changed my mind. I now think that Nessie is most likely to be a long-necked seal, like springheeledjack has suggested. After doing lots of more reading, on this subject, I have now come to the conclusion, that the long-necked pinniped is the best theory, for what the Loch Ness Monster is. You see, I have read several accounts of Sea Serpent sightings, that appear to decribe rather mammalian anatomical features, on the creatures. For example, in one sighting, a man who saw a Sea Serpent described its body as being covered with fur, and its face being sort of similar to that of a seal, or a sea-lion. And, since I presume that the Loch Ness Monsters, whatever they might be, are freshwater evolutionary variants of Sea Serpents, this theory then makes even more sense. In conclusion, I am now firmly in the long-necked pinniped camp! :) !

  38. Troodon56 responds:

    Once again, I have changed my mind. After reading The Monsters of Loch Ness by Roy P. Mackal, I realized just how unlikely it is that the Loch Ness Monsters are air-breathers. You see, back in 1968, a sonar study captured several animate objects, diving, deep in the loch. They never came up to the surface, and they always seemed to remain in the deeper waters, near the bottom and sides, of the loch. Mackal then compared these diving profiles to the diving profile of a seal, and he found that they were, indeed, very different, from each other. Also, as many others here have previously pointed out, if it were an air-breather, then, sightings would be far more frequent. Now, I do understand that they probably only stick their nostrils out of the water, to breathe. However, even if only the nostrils were exposed, above the water’s surface, you still have to keep in mind that, if there is a relatively substantially-sized breeding population, in the loch, they would still be seen, far more often, than this.

    Now, what do I think? Personally, I think that we are definitely looking at an animal which looks very similar to a plesiosaur, due to the phenomenon known as convergent evolution. However, unlike plesiosaurs, these creatures have gills, and can breathe, underwater. However, what about the land sightings? Well, the land sightings can easily be explained. You see, very few people are aware of the fact that some species of fish can spend a considerable amount of time, out of the water, even though they have gills. For example, as Mackal noted in his book, eels have been observed moving 20 miles, overland! So, even if we are dealing with some kind of fish, it is still entirely possible, that it is capable of some short excursions, onto dry land.

    In my opinion, after examining all of the available evidence, the Nessies are, I think, most likely to be a very uniquely-evolved species of fish, that is completely unlike any other one, presently known, to science. It has a long neck, a bulky body, and 4 flippers, just like a plesiosaur. It is also capable of walking on land, for short periods, of time. And, I am also guessing that it most likely feeds on other, smaller fish. My theory is that they mainly inhabit the bottom and sides, of the loch, and therefore remain hidden, from most sonar scans.

  39. Troodon56 responds:

    Hopefully, one day, one of them will finally be caught, and the mystery will finally be solved! :D !

  40. Troodon56 responds:

    Actually, I guess it makes more sense if the Nessies were amphibians, with some degree of neoteny present. There are a few species of amphibians, alive today, which are completely neotenous, (such as the Axolotl, for example). My theory is that the Loch Ness Monsters are giant, plesiosaur-shaped amphibians, with gills. I speculate that they live mainly on the bottom and sides, of the loch.

    I also speculate, that they could remain partially buried in silt, at the bottom of the loch, with only their long neck sticking out. Then, when a fish or an eel swims by, the jaws clamp down on it, and it eats it. If they spend most of their time at the bottom & sides, and only come up rarely, then, I guess that could help explain why there are frequent sightings in some years, but not in other years.

    For example, in 1933, they were building a new road, the A82, along the North shore, of the loch. Several factors contributed to the immense amount of sightings, during this year. Because there were many construction workers, next to the loch, there were simply more people around, to have sightings. Also, they cut down the trees, which provided a clearer view of the loch, which contributed to the sightings. Plus, lots of rocks and trees and boulders were dumped into the loch, and the noise from the construction must surely have disrupted the mainly bottom-and-side-dwelling animals. Therefore, they left their habitats, and swam into more open water, near the surface. Some of them also must have came onto land, because this would help to explain the land sightings, as well.

    Apparently, This new surge in sightings continued to 1934. By then, however, more vegetation had grown back, and the animals returned back home, to the deeper waters.

    I feel that this theory really helps to explain why there were so many sightings, in the 1930′s.

  41. flame821 responds:

    @ Troodon

    Do a google image search for this term Rhinochimaeridae the first few pictures look remarkably like several reported lake monsters. This creature normally grows to about 4.5 feet (approx 2m) in size however a larger version of this species, or perhaps a few outliers within the known species may be causing a lot of sightings. I haven’t looked into it too deeply but I know quite a few related species can exists out of the water for anything from several minutes to several days.



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