Human beings seem to be naturally obsessed with anything they perceive as the paranormal. This ranges in anything from Big Foot to The Loch Ness Monster. The Loch Ness Monster is steeped in mystery and stories. People have been hunting for this creature for what appears to be centuries. But what is The Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie, as it is affectionately referred to? Where did the legend originate? Is it in fact a legend or a reality?
The first records we have of Nessie date back about fifteen hundred years when the Romans first came to Scotland. Upon their arrival they came across native tribes called Picts that were very fierce and covered in tattoos. As the Romans explored the land they found many animals carved into stones, which led them to believe that this tribe was fascinated with animals. They found all of the animals carved in the stones ones that they knew with the exception of one, one in which was referred to as the water horse. The animal resembled a fish having a long neck and flippers, so naturally the Romans assumed it not to be an animal but a fish. These creatures have been a part of Scottish folklore ever since, often portrayed to youngsters as swimming elephants that possessed mystical powers. Whatever the folklore suggests, it is obvious that there was a creature living in the loch even then.
The next recorded sighting of Nessie was in 565 AD by Saint Columba. According to this story a creature jumped out of the water and ate one of his men. He then asked God to intervene and summoned the creature away. The legend states that Nessie retreated, as asked, and never ate another man again.
In April of 1933 a road in Scotland was built around the loch that offered a clear view of the lake, which spans approximately twenty three miles long and is approximately eight hundred feet deep. One evening a man by the name of George Spicer and his wife were out for a walk when they saw a huge creature walk in front of their car. A few weeks later a man named Arthur Grant claimed to have been riding his motorcycle around the loch when he almost hit the creature. He claimed that the creature was on land at the time, then went back into the loch. He described it as having short legs, or flippers and a long narrow neck.
Nessie is commonly described as having a long neck and a small head. The length of Nessie is questionable as some say the creature is twenty feet long and others place it at a length somewhere between fifty and sixty feet in length. It is also described as having two humps on its back and its skin is described as being akin to that of an elephant. The creature is also described as being shy, which is why people say it is hard to locate. Also, with the loch being the length and depth that it is, with many caves in the lake, if Nessie wanted to hide, it easily could. The waters of the lake are very murky and dark making sight very difficult.
Several pictures of Nessie have been taken, although most have been concluded as being nothing more than a hoax. The most famous of these hoax pictures is one described as “The Surgeon’s Photo”. A physician and his wife were taking a walk along the loch and saw apparently saw Nessie. The physician claimed to have photographed the creature, but the picture was proven fraudulent in 1994.
Being that there are so many reports of a creature being seen in the loch, leads even scientists to believe there is something there. Some speculate that Nessie is a surviving dinosaur known as the plesiosaur. This reptile was thought to be extinct at the end of Cretaceous period. But this seems unlikely being that this dinosaur was cold-blooded. This would mean that in order for Nessie to be a plesiosaur it would have had to have survived in the sea and then swam through rivers for over ten thousand miles in ice cold water to reach the loch. This would have been impossible for the cold blooded reptile to have survived.
Scientists are more in agreement that Nessie is a species that is yet to be discovered. A sonar experiment conducted in 1969 by Andrew Carroll detected a strong echo calculating a creature in the loch that was at least twenty feet long. This animal uses echolocation much the same way dolphins and whales do. In 2001 the Global Underwater Search Team conducted an additional sonar test using far more advanced equipment and again contact was made. Once again in 2011 a man named Marcus Atkinson made sonar contact with a creature that was only about five feet long at a depth of seventy five feet. The creature was keeping pace with the boat as if following it.
An interesting occurrence recently happened whereas Jeremy Wade, star of the popular series “The River Monsters”, was hired to go in search of the Loch Ness Monster. In his search, he ended up in Norway and discovered many Greenland Sharks. According to Wade, this shark could be what is being mistaken for the Loch Ness Monster. It is not a typical shark. It is extremely dark in color, has a small dorsal fin that could be mistaken for a hump, hunts only at night time, and surfaces very rarely. After days of fishing Wade finally caught one and what he captured did not look anything like a shark, reinforcing the idea that this creature could be what is lurking in the loch.
With all of the mystery and lure surrounding the Loch Ness Monster, it makes Loch Ness, Scotland one of the most visited tourist locations. This stands with good reason. There are too many stories, legends, and witness accounts of Nessie for it just to be dismissed as a myth. After all, as with all legends and myths, they stem from somewhere.