Written by Manya Pandey, a first-year undergraduate student.
It’s one of those mythical creatures that’s been talked about for centuries as people have asked the question – is the Loch Ness Monster real?
Let’s find out more about this mysterious monster…
What’s the story of the Loch Ness Monster?
It’s called the Loch Ness Monster – named after Loch Ness, the lake where it is said to live. This is in Scotland, the UK.
Tell me more
The legend goes back thousands of years . The Loch Ness Monster or, as it’s popularly known, Nessie, is a mysterious animal that’s part of Scottish folklore. This monster-looking creature is said to be wandering in the Loch Ness waters for over 1500 years. Scottish folklore is filled with tales of encounters with this monster.
The story in a nutshell…
Tales about a monster living in Loch Ness go back to ancient times. Some local stone carvings from that time depict a scary-looking beast with flippers.
Who made these carvings?
These were made by a tribe named the Picts – who was a fierce tattoo-covered tribe that was fascinated by and feared animals.
All the animals chiseled on the Pictish stones are vivid and easily observable, except a strange beast with an elongated beak or neck, knob head, and flippers instead of feet.
This unclear image is described by some scholars as a “swimming elephant” and is probably the earliest known evidence for the idea of a mysterious beast treading Scottish waters, now known as the Loch Ness monster.
The earliest sightings of the Loch Ness Monster
The story goes that an Irish Monk named Saint Columba witnessed some locals burying a man who had been killed by the lake monster. Upon hearing this story the saint sent one of his followers to check out the murky waters where the follower too got attacked but the saint warded off the monster with a cross saying: “Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once.” and the creature stopped at once and fled.
This creature often dubbed a monster is usually accounted for as long-necked, and with multiple humps protruding from the water but it wasn’t as popular until 1933 when this local tale began attracting global attention.
The 20th-century sensation
The modern legend of Loch Ness dates from 1933. It was around that time when a new road was completed along the shore which offered the first clear views of the Loch (lake) from the northern side.
One fine April afternoon when a local couple was driving home along this road when they spotted “an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface.” This account was written in a local newspaper, whose editor used the word “monster” to describe the animal and that was how the sensation started.
Public interest gradually picked up around and soon after, several London newspapers sent special correspondents to Scotland, and radio programs were being interrupted to bring listeners the latest news from the loch.
For the next three decades, most scientists scornfully dismissed reports of monsters in the loch calling them the result of optical illusions caused by floating logs and ducks.
It was around this time when the famous picture of the loch ness creature was printed in the London mail, the legendary picture which turned out nothing more than another fake.
Is the Loch Ness monster real?
High-tech searches aimed at finally revealing the truth behind all the mysteries began in the 1970s. The Boston-based Academy of Applied Science sponsored these expeditions which set out to capture the monster and laid an advanced trap by combining SONAR (sound navigation) and underwater photography for the first time.
Their system paid off one night in 1975 when the sonar registered a large, moving object and at the same time, the underwater camera took pictures of an object that looked, after computer development and enhancement, like the flippers of an aquatic creature.
Critics were quick to dub it a human failure or a wrong detection but it wasn’t the only study conducted. In 1987, an expedition called Operation Deep Scan used a small fleet of 20 sonar-equipped boats to scan the loch and the operation detected three underwater targets that could not be explained.
A few other expeditions followed in the year to come including one by the famous news agency BBC, which was the first extensive study of the loch’s biology and geology and unexpectedly detected a large, moving underwater target.
So, what is the animal?
Based on the flipper pictures taken at the time of the expedition and some eyewitness sightings, scholars concluded that Nessie was a plesiosaur, an ancient long-necked reptile that was supposed to have gone extinct some 65 million years along with the dinosaurs.
Moreover, scientists have now claimed that the creatures that have been seen repeatedly, which people believe to be the Loch Ness Monster may be giant eels!
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