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Loch Ness Monster facts

Updated on May 7, 2015

The Loch Ness monster is possibly the most recognizable of all the cryptids and has been extensively studied by both professional and amateur Nessie hunters but more questions than answers remain.

Since the first photo was first revealed to the world the Loch Ness monster has captivated the imaginations of thousands leading to interesting accounts and terrific hoaxes.

Despite having a large number of the sightings involving the Loch Ness monster declared faked or explained as some natural occurrence the popularity of this magnificent creature has never faltered. Read on for more information about the Loch Ness Monster.

An old newspaper declaring a monster in the Loch
An old newspaper declaring a monster in the Loch

5. The Name "Monster"

The name of the Loch Ness Monster is said to have originated in 1933 by a journalist named Alex Campbell who was writing an article for a local Scottish newspaper about a sighting which occurred a few weeks earlier. When the story was picked up by the international press they jumped on the term and began calling the creature "The Loch Ness Monster" and the rest is history they say.

The actual Scottish Gaelic name for the creature is Niseag but is rarely referred to by this name. Sometime in the 1950s the creature was given the nick name Nessie and has been lovingly referred as this name since.

Image ~ Stock footage of an old newsreel

An artist rendering of an elephant trunk underwater
An artist rendering of an elephant trunk underwater

4. Possible Explanations

A number of interesting theories have been used to validate the claims that the Loch Ness Monster actually exists; many more to prove it doesn't. Nessie has always been a hot topic in the cryptozoology field for decades.

Since the 1930s the most popular theory among believers was that the monster was a once thought extinct species of aquatic dinosaur called a plesiosaur, but a number of compelling arguments against it make seem highly unlikely. Plesiosaurs breathed air requiring the animal to surface frequently which would mean it would be witnessed more often and the fact that Loch Ness has only been thawed out for about 10,000 years appear strong evidence against ole Nessie.

Others has suggested it might a long neck newt, bristleworm, or giant eel. The diet of any of these animals and general shape would be the same as Nessies. An elephant swimming has been suggested as well and for as ridiculous as it sounds it doesn't seem too far fetched. (Read about it in the National Geographic article.)

Image credit ~ National Geographic News

Monster Sightings

Surgeons famous photo of Nessie
Surgeons famous photo of Nessie

3. The Most Famous Sighting

The most famous sighting of the Loch Ness Monster has got to be the 1933 event in which a local doctor named Robert Wilson managed to snap five photos (see the photo to the right for an example) of the beast. After being developed only 3 of the images were clear and one was, and still is, the only photograph showing the creatures head and neck.

Dr.Wilson did not wish to have his name associated with the photograph and this led to the photo being name "Surgeons Photograph" by the newspaper that ran the story. Rightly so it seems, as the whole thing was revealed as a hoax in 1975.

The photo itself became widely recognized as the Loch Ness Monster and has been studied by dozens of researchers. One researcher even suggests that the confession of the hoax was a hoax and that the photograph is completely genuine.

Image credit ~ Surgeons Photo

1972 - underwater sonar image
1972 - underwater sonar image

2. Searching for the Monster

  • Sir Edward Mountain Expedition 1934 - The first serious search for the monster involved 20 men with binoculars and cameras around the loch for five weeks. Only 21 photos were taken and none considered conclusive.
  • Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau 1962-1972 - A dedicated group of a 1000 members based in the UK. Some intriguing evidence was found using sonar but the bureau closed in 1972.
  • LNPIB Sonar Study 1967-1968 - A professor at the University of Birmingham in England volunteers his services as a sonar expert setting up a strategic sonar in the loch. He records large moving objects moving quickly and is sure they are animal, just not what kind.
  • Andrew Carroll's Sonar Study 1969 - A field researcher for the New York Aquarium sets up a mobile sonar scan of the loch. One sweep of the loch produces a return which is determined to be approximately 20 feet in length and moving.
  • Big Expedition 1970 - A biologist from the University of Chicago creates underwater microphones and sets them up around the loch. The results are a series of clicks, whistles and turbulent swishing, like a tail moving a large animal. The call patterns match no known animal ever recorded.
  • Robert Rine's Studies 1972, 1975, 2001, 2008 - These studies provide some hotly debated underwater photos of the creature but more importantly find previously undiscovered animal species in the loch. The studies suggest an underwater connection to the ocean that Nessie may use. Finally in 2008 Rine declared that the monster may have become extinct due to global warming after finding no evidence on the last expedition.
  • Operation Deep Scan 1987 - 24 boats equipped with echosounder and scanned the loch. They reported finding a large unidentified object of unusual size and strength.
  • Discovery Loch Ness 1993 - Discovery Communications began research on the ecology of the loch looking at nematodes and fish. They found the loch's fish population to be much larger than expected and 3 sonar contacts, each followed by a powerful wake.
  • Searching for the Loch Ness Monster BBC 2003 - The BBC sponsored a complete sonar search of the loch using sonar and satellite tracking. Nothing was found despite high hopes.

Image credit ~ Rines expedition 1972 with under water sonar.

A faked photo of the monster
A faked photo of the monster

1. Interesting Hoaxes

The most relevant hoax is one perpetrated by the Journalist who first reported the sighting in 1933. In 1959 he admitted to expanding on the eyewitness account of "strange fish" by adding further fabricated eye witnesses. He claimed to do so to lengthen his article about the sighting.

Other notable and often times funny hoaxes included a prankster using a hippopotamus foot umbrella stand to make fake monster footprints. Another hoax involved a prank played by a researcher on his colleagues in which he dumped the corpse of an elephant seal in the loch and was so disfigured it was thought to be a corpse of the monster.

The 2000s saw many hoaxes revealed such as a fake fossil being planted and found, a huge tooth that was found and widely publicised but found to be a publicity stunt for a book. The biggest fake though was by a documentary team who used an animatronic model of Nessie. They received over 600 reports of sightings in their attempt to get people to believe in the monster.

Image credit ~ Taken by Anthony Sheils in 1977, proven fake and dubbed the Loch Ness Muppet

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      john feury 2 years ago

      From psychic sources, this is a giant eel. These creatures are a very old species, they are on the brink of extinction, and are about 15 to twenty feet in length. A small number exist in the north sea and like seals they come into the loch via the one outlet swim about are seen from time to time and return to the north sea(the genuine ones that is )

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      CureCandidaNaturally 5 years ago

      I'd love it if somebody found Nessie!

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      bonelessdriedsquid 5 years ago

      I want to spot one

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      Ladyeaglefeather 5 years ago

      very cool lens