Synonymous with Scotland, the Loch Ness Monster is one of the most famous, and disputed legendary creatures worldwide. With new developments in the search for Nessie, we take a whistle-stop voyage through her history.
It’s 565 AD and this year marks the first recorded sighting of the mythical beast. Irish monk, Saint Columba records encountering local residents burying a man. This same man was reportedly swimming in the Loch but was attacked by what we now think to be the Loch Ness Monster. Quite savagely, he was dragged underwater and mauled by the “water beast”. The violent encounter birthed the modern legend, and so began the myth we know today.
1933 - 1934
Fast forward over a millennia and the A82 road, begins to take shape alongside the water. Legend says that disruptive construction work “forced the monster from the depths”.
A short time later, the first image of Nessie comes to light. The photograph, taken by Hugh Gray, shows a serpentine shadow moving across the top of the water. For many at the time, this confirmed the existence of such a fear-mongering beast.
With another year comes another photograph. Aptly named the “Surgeon’s Photograph”, doctor Robert Kenneth Wilson captures what, until this moment has only been depicted in stories, the unmistakable long neck of the Loch Ness Monster gliding through the water. Printed front and centre on the Daily Mail newspaper, Nessie has national exposure, and so commences the search.
The 1960’s & 70’s
After receiving media attention and countless pop culture references, thousands of members of the public will flock to the waters over the coming decades in an attempt to catch a glimpse of Nessie.
1962 saw the creation of ‘The Loch Ness Investigation Bureau Limited’ with the intention “to carry on research into unexplained zoological and other natural phenomena…”. The Bureau led an observational study over ten years, with an empirical edge, cameras were stationed around the Loch, sonar and fish lures were deployed, and underwater sonic experiments were conducted.
With almost no bounds to the hunt for answers, a man named Dan Taylor built a fiberglass yellow submarine entitled Viperfish, to explore the waters. Contrary to its name, Viperfish did not have speed on its side, and travelled at a maximum of 8mph. When a large cloud of dust erupted and movement underwater was identified, Viperfish failed to capture the prospective evidence it sought.
The disappointing absence of hard evidence continued in 1975, where the famous “Surgeon’s Photograph”, which brought much publicity to the Loch, exposed as a hoax. It later came to the surface that the “monster” was made from a toy submarine and a pseudo neck and head.
The 1990’s & Early 2000’s
After the wholly unsuccessful study by the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau, it lost government recognition as a charity in 1996, as it ceased to exist.
The turn of the millennium saw the hunt for Nessie gather momentum when the BBC conducted a colossal investigation in 2003. Using 600 sonar beams and satellite navigation, the entirety of the Loch was searched. Sadly, but not unsurprisingly, the BBC found no evidence of the Loch Ness Monster. It was added that a marine reptile (the speculated biology of Nessie) could not survive in the cold temperatures the Loch experienced, and that warmer waters would be favoured by this type of animal.
Nearly a century after the initial image hit the headlines, we are now awaiting a “plausible theory” from University of Otago scientists. Researchers from the New Zealand university obtained DNA samples from the waters in an effort to index all life which resided there.
An idea that has consistently influenced media offerings, brought tourism and interest to a small corner of Scotland, and kept us thinking what if all these years. As we await their findings later this week, we can look back over 1,500 years of speculation on this legend, and lay testament to the advances in technology that can once and for all tell us, myth, or monster?
Have you spotted the Loch Ness Monster, or something else in the waters? Let us know in the comments.