Nessie Invented By An Italian?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 28th, 2009

For those that think the skeptical, humorous, and dismissive approach to the Loch Ness Monster is only a part of the landscape of the last few years, take a look at this recently published “flashback” news item from 50 years ago.

It is interesting, as per the modern examples of debunking, this one too is tied to the ego attention-seeking desired by the person doing the claiming.

IRISH TIMES ODDITIES: A look at some articles which have appeared in The Irish Times in the past, by Allen Foster


An Italian journalist claims in the Milan illustrated weekly that he invented the Loch Ness monster in 1933. Signor Francesco Gasparini said that he was the London correspondent of a Milan newspaper at the time and amassed hundreds of British newspaper clippings. They included two lines published in a Scottish newspaper about some Inverness fishermen who had seen a strange fish.

“At the beginning of August 1933 my supply of news was even slower than usual,” he wrote. “I had the inspiration to get hold of the item about the strange fish. The idea of the monster had never dawned on me, but then I noted that the strange fish would not yield a long article, and I decided to promote the imaginary being to the rank of monster without further ado.”

But the monster grew out of hand. The next day, Signor Gasparini said, he was forced to invent eye-witness accounts, backed up by local colour gleaned from a geography book. By the time he began plotting the monster’s death or escape, long reports were appearing in other papers.

“It had to live on. The British press grabbed my little monster and made a giant out of it.”

The legend grew.

“Photographs” of the monster and magnificent drawings, based on eye-witness accounts were published widely.

Affectionately called “Nessie”, it became a national institution.

Signor Gasparini declared: “The monster of Loch Ness has never existed. I invented it. I admit it – but I am not sorry.”

March 23rd, 1959


Unfortunately for Signor Gasparini’s fable, the reality is the Kelpies have been mentioned in tales for centuries around Loch Ness. Finally, an account in the lochside newspaper, the Northern Chronicle on August 27, 1930, was the first to make a modern mention of a “monster” in the Scottish lake.

Then, it was the breakthrough news item about the “Monster” in Loch Ness seen by Mr. and Mrs. John Mackay on April 14, 1933, which was the first to run in a series of articles in the Inverness Courier in May of 1933, that did the trick.

After doing extensively research on the matter, I detailed, in my and Patrick Huyghe’s field guide, the history of the first media accounts in “The Nessie Story” (pages 18-22).

I concluded the early overview by noting: “One month and 20 eyewitness sightings later, the story had become an international sensation. And a year later, the creature would be dubbed ‘Nessie.'”

So even by June 1933, the world was well aware of the “Loch Ness Monster,” long before Signor Gasparini supposedly wrote his few words about a “strange fish” in Loch Ness in August of 1933!

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

11 Responses to “Nessie Invented By An Italian?”

  1. cliffhanger042002 responds:

    Ok, so this guy wanted a little attention and notoriety, and tried to claim invention of Nessie to prove that the creature doesn’t exist and lives only in the minds of the imaginative. Well, at least he did play some part in some of the early reporting, even though his reports didn’t lead to the widespread popularity of the Loch Ness Monster as he had claimed, at least in his mind he may have been responsible for the notoriety and just wanted to come clean and clear his conscience. I’m a firm believer in the possibilty of Bigfoot, but I have to say that I do have a hard time with Nessie due to the fact that the lake isn’t quite as big as the Pacific Northwest and other alleged habitats of Bigfoot. In Nessie’s case, living in a single body of water, and it seems to me with all the expeditions and attempts to find a creature that hasn’t been found, despite all our current technology, maybe it simply doesn’t exist. I mean, even decades ago our ships and subs had technology to find other vessels in oceans, and did find and destroy them, right? So even though I hold out possibility for Bigfoot, I’m not gonna hold my breathe on Nessie, lol. But I’m sure other here will have all kinds of arguments and reasonings as to why it hasn’t been found, so let the games begin I reckon.

  2. marcodufour responds:

    Hi cliffhanger, have you never heard of the Operation Deepscan in 1987 in Loch Ness? These found contacts larger than sharks but smaller than whales, there is also Robert Rhines’ underwater sonar linked photographs which do look remarkably like Plesiosaurs.

  3. cliffhanger042002 responds:

    marcodufour – sure, I’ve heard of many expeditions and attempts, but still no conclusive proof, and I think that history will keep repeating itself in that manner, people will attempt to use inconclusive evidence, such as those sonar images you speak of, which are really not evidence at all, to keep the story going. At the end of the day, the only thing that will prove the existence of Nessie is a carcass or live specimen. No crappy, inconclusive sonar image will do it. I mean if someone does sonar scans of a lake looking for a monster, I think they will find images of the monster, but the human imagination creates it for them and makes it easy for them to see a monster in the images. In the particular case of Nessie, with the technology we have today, it seems highly unlikely that something like a plesiosaur could live in the lake and not have been caught already with the amount of attention the lake has gotten.

  4. cliffhanger042002 responds:

    Another issue I have with the plesiosaur theory isn’t just the fact that it has supposedly been extinct for 65 million years, but the fact that there have been no carcass found despite the attention the lake has gotten for 80 years or so. If there is a plesiosaur in the lake, is there more than 1? A breeding population perhaps? If so, then why has nobody ever found a carcass? Do plesiosaurs, like Bigfoot are alleged to do, collect the bodies of their fallen comrades? Highly unlikely, huh? We have fossil records of the plesiosaurs that have been dated back to a certain period in history, but no bodies, or bones, or fossils of plesiosaurs from any time in the recent past. So with that said, it just doesn’t seem plausible that a plesiosaur is swimming around in the Loch…..

  5. DavidFullam responds:

    Weren’t the unknown Deep Scan hits later found out to be something known, or did I get my history mixed up?

  6. HulkSmashNow responds:

    Prove that Nessie never existed or does not exist now, and I’ll believe it. Otherwise, I’ll forever be an anti-skeptic.

  7. springheeledjack responds:

    Operation DeepScan did yield a couple of hits that were not conclusively proved as mundane items and the signatures had moved when return sweeps were made.

    As for the size of the loch–while it may not be the surface area of the Pacific Northwest, we are talking about a body of water 24 miles long, a mile across at various points and up to 900 feet deep in spots (I think the average is more like 300-500 feet). So we’re talking about 24 square miles of loch on just the surface.

    There are also a number of reports of the creature on land or the shore, so if it is not water locked, then that adds to the area.

    And given the fact that the loch is not ringed by settlements, houses or the like, there are plenty of places for a creature to roll around on the surface without fear of being harassed, let alone seen.

    I’m not sold on the plesiosaur theory either…there are similarities, but that only means that the critter may be something resembling some of the characteristics of a plesiosaur type animal…long neck, possible flippers, etc. It’s just that the plesiosaur theory is the most popular because on several fronts, it ‘fits the bill’ the best, so to speak.

    As for the carcass, while in a cold water lake you might suspect the creature would decompose slowly, the fact is there are a plethora (not plesiosaur) of eels and fish and smaller things to clean out a carcass in a short amount of time. Then the bones would settle to the bottom, and with all of the peat and other crap at the bottom, it would not be hard or take long to bury the remains in the silt (or whatever it is scientifically called) to cover any remains that might be there. As far as I know, there have been no efforts to dredge the bottom because of the depth and harsh conditions of the loch.

  8. Alligator responds:

    The problem with sonar is that it can pick up false scans. Loch Ness is high in peat content and concentrations could theoretically create echoes as cold underwater currents, thermal inversions, etc. underwater “phantoms” if you will. If the hits had been verifiable multiple times, showed patterns of movement then there might be reason to be more optimistic that it was detecting a living creature.

    If there were any large unknown creatures in the loch (which I doubt) they are not plesiosaurs. To house a reproducing colony of large vertebrate creatures would take tremendous food resources. Unlike other lakes in temperate or tropical lakes, Ness lacks many basic nutrients that build the food web. For its size, the fish population is light. Also a large vertebrate would be detected more easily and eventually a carcass would be recovered.

    A large invertebrate would be harder to spot and maybe only be near the surface extremely rarely and briefly. Possibly on sonar the soft body would be more shadowy, less distinct and lost altogether at or near the bottom. Maybe it dines on peat and algae like a slug or a snail? IF an unknown is there it is probably along that line.

  9. Alligator responds:

    Oh and aye, no Italian invented Nessie. The stories of kelpies and water horses go back in our lore to ancient times. If he did anything, he just tried to capitalize on the local lore, but that’s not inventing it.

  10. springheeledjack responds:

    The food estimations are debatable. There has been more than one study done on the loch’s food sources, and there is evidence that there is enough food available to support a higher predator. Another thing that is often overlooked is that there are salmon that feed into the loch as well–there is more than one sighting of Nessie going after salmon in the loch.

    The other claim that always mystifies me is the idea that if a critter had to come to the surface to breathe it would be seen all of the time. Again, it is an argument that, on the surface 🙂 sounds valid, but in reality is not.

    As I said above, we’re talking 24 square miles of surface area on the loch. Doesn’t sound too daunting until you think of it in real terms: that’s 126,720 feet long by up to 5280 feet wide, or 669,081,600 square feet of surface area to keep track of. In the face of that, it would be easy to say that a creature even 15-25 feet long would be able to stick its head up to the surface without being noticed on a regular basis.

    With the loch being a mile across, and the deepest parts being in the middle areas, it stands to reason a larger creature would stick to the deeper waters and would often surface out in the middle. How good is human eyesight? Good enough from either shore to see clearly out 1/2 a mile and pick something out on the water?

    Maybe, occasionally, on a clear day when the water is calm…which is when many sightings occur. Loch Ness is notorious for weather changes, and quick changing weather, so getting calm weather in which to observe such a creature coming to the surface is still the proverbial ‘needle in a haystack.’

    As to whether it is vertebrate or invertebrate, it’s hard to say. Giant squid come to the surface occasionally (if stories are to be believed:). I think the plesiosaur idea has stuck for so long because it’s easy for the general masses to wrap their imaginations around. Like I said it’s easy.

    As to what I think it might be…I haven’t come to a real conclusion on that…would have to see it myself–and that’s still a few years out:). There are a whole range of possibilities, but as Cliffhanger said, we’re going to be debating this until someone finds a body.

  11. Troodon56 responds:

    Just like Loren said, I highly doubt that Nessie was “invented” by an Italian man, in August of 1933. As numerous others have noticed, sightings date back to nearly 1,500 years, ago.

    Now, as for Nessie’s identity, I used to think that they were plesiosaurs. However, I have now changed my mind. I now think that they are most likely to be long-necked pinnipeds, that have evolved independently, to look like plesiosaurs, via convergent evolution. In my opinion, the pinniped theory makes the most sense, and comes closest to explaining most of the evidence, from Loch Ness.

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