Nessie is special. The Loch Ness is special. No longer do people wonder "if" something wonderful lives within its depths, people now ask themselves "what" lives within it. The Scottish Government has declared it "An Endangered Species," even enacting a law to protect the creature. People for centuries have given claim to have observed it, a privilege sought after by many, but rewarded to few. In this fascinating study, learn about the monster of the Loch Ness, and come to know the physical reality of this elusive, awe-inspiring animal.
The oldest known story of the animal of the Loch Ness is more than sixteen hundred years old. The first recorded sighting takes us back to the year A.D. 400. St. Columba was a priest during this time, and is today accepted as the man who brought Christianity to Scotland. His encounter with the creature is recorded in his biography, which was written a hundreds years or so after this took place:
"At another time, again when the blessed man was staying for some days in the province of the Picts, he found it necessary to cross the River Ness; and when he came to the bank thereof, he sees some of the inhabitants burying a poor unfortunate man, whom, as those who were burying themselves reported, some water monster had, a little before, snatched at as he was swimming and bitten with a most savage bite, and whose hapless corpse some men who came in a boat to give assistance, though too late, caught hold of by putting out hooks.
The blessed man, however, on hearing this, directs that some one of his companions hall swim out and bring to him the boat that is on the other side, sailing it across. On hearing this direction of the holy and famous man, Lugne Mocumin, obeying without delay, throws off all his clothes except his undergarment, and casts himself into the water.
Now the Monster, which was not so much satiated as made eager for prey, was lying hid in the bottom of the river; but perceiving that the water above was disturbed by him who was crossing, suddenly emerged, and swimming to the man as he was crossing in the middle of the stream, rushed up with a great roar and open mouth. Then the blessed man looked on, while all who were there, the heathen as well as the brethren, were stricken with very great terror; and with his holy hand raised on high he formed the sign of the cross in the empty air, invoked the name of God, and commanded the fierce monster, saying, 'Think not to go further nor touch thou that man. Quick go back!' Then the beast, on hearing this voice of the saint, was terrified and fled backwards more rapidly that he came, as if dragged by cords, although it had come so near to Lugne as he swam, that there was not more than the length of a punt pole between the man and the beast.
Then comrade Lugne was returned to them safe and sound in the boat, glorified God in the blessed man, greatly marveling. Moreover also the barbarous heathen who were there present, constrained by the greatness of the miracle, which they themselves had seen, glorified the God of the Christians."
The monster is again mentioned in books written in 1520, 1827, and 1900. Not until the 1930s, however, did people really begin to take notice of the monster of Loch Ness. The question must be asked, "Why?" Not surprisingly, it was during this time that roads were put in alongside the lake, allowing more people to drive around and observe the Loch than ever before. Coincidence? Highly unlikely.
The creature of the Loch is hardly a simple imagination of recent times. Reputable people have seen it all through the ages. This lends as much credibility to the existence of Nessie then any photograph could ever give. We must now, if possible, discover "what" she is, no longer "if" she exists.
Nessie: The Species
It can be affirmed without question that, if Nessie exists, there is more than one of them inhabiting the lake. Estimates from 10-20 to 50-100 have been given, but nobody knows for sure.
The speciation of Nessie, if we agree with the descriptions of the majority of sightings, as well as the numerous pictures taken, is without question related to the Plesiosaur family. Plesiosaurs were a group of marine-dwelling reptiles (they were not true dinosaurs), that ranged in size from the 7-foot long Plesiosaurus to the 46-foot long Elasmosaurus. They possessed deep bodies, short tails, and more than the normal five bones in each finger or flipper (they often had as many as ten bones in each finger). Plesiosaurs are divided into two groups or Superfamilies: those with short necks and large heads, such as Kronosaurus, which are in the Superfamily Pliosauroidea; and those with long necks and small heads, such as the Elasmosaurus or Cryptoclidus, which are in the Superfamily Plesiosauroidea. Nessie seems to be that of the latter.
Though some experts enjoy making claims that they know a great deal about Plesiosaurs, in truth we know very little about them. Fossils and bones can only reveal to us so much; the rest is simply guess-work. The claim that "Nessie would need to come for air every so often" is, to simply put it, just a claim. We know little of Plesiosaur air capacity.
Lay of the Land
Loch Ness, being situated in Scotland, is the first of a series of Lochs and is also the largest of these Lochs. The average temperature of the water is around 42 degrees Fahrenheit. Visibility in the water is almost nothing due to the peat and silt that is overly saturated in the water. At 750 feet, the Loch is a perfect lair for such a creature as Nessie. Recent sonar scans of the bottom of the Loch revealed that the bottom resembles a raisin. Hundreds of craggy caves provide shelter for any such water creature. Steep mountains rise up on either side of the Loch, which stretches for 24 miles, averaging 1 mile in width.
Most people who claim to have seen the monster report strange humps moving about in the water, usually accompanied by abnormally large wake. The hump then sinks out of sight, followed by foaming water. Others report seeing the neck and hump of something out on the water. Many sightings include the beast nervously looking around, and disappearing into the depths when a boat approaches. Still others claim to have seen the beast on land crossing a road by the Loch.
In the spring of 1933, a Scottish newspaper ran a story about Loch Ness. According to the story, two people driving past the lake had seen some kind of enormous animal rolling and plunging in the water. They watched it for a full minute, then it dove out of sight.
A month later, another man and woman claimed to have seen the creature on land. They were driving along the lake when a gigantic animal came out of the woods beside the road and crossed their path, heading for the water.
In 1968, some scientists and engineers went to Loch Ness to test a new kind of sonar - a machine that can locate things underwater by sound. These men weren't even looking for the monster, and most of them didn't even believe in it. Suddenly, to the surprise of them all, the sonar began to show several large objects moving about in the deep water of the lake.
The following are a few brief descriptions of Nessie sightings on land.
Observer(s): Group of children.
Description: Strange creature at North Shore coming down hillside. Graveyard Elephant colored. Small head turning side to side on long neck. "Waddled" into water.
Observer(s): E.H. Bright and Cousin.
Description: "Monster" emerged from wooded area near Drumnadrochit and "waddled" to water on four legs. Left wash after entering water. Long neck, dark gray.
Observer(s): Five or six children.
Description: Queer looking animal moved to the Inchnacardoch Bay Loch and vanished in the water. Compared to a camel but smaller: long neck, humped-back and fairly long legs, sandy pale yellow color.
Observer(s): Mrs. Peter Cameron
Description: Having a small head like a camel, long neck, and two brothers humped back and four limbs. Color like a camel. Lurched down into the water.
Date: April, 1923
Observer(s): Alfred Cruickshank
Description: Body 10-12 ft. long; tail 10-12 ft. long. Maximum diameter of the body 5-7 feet. Arched back. Khaki green color, lighter underbelly. Four legs, thick like an elephant's, with large webbed feet. Barked like a dog.
Observer(s): School children at Drumnadrochit
Description: A most peculiar and horrifying animal in the bushy swamp in Urquhart Bay. Picture of Plesiosaur was picked out as similar.
Observer(s): Arthur Grant
Description: Small head and long neck, bulky body with two slight humps, long tail, rounded at end. Head like an eel with large eyes. Overall length 15-20 feet, tail 5-6 feet, Neck 3 1/2 - 4 feet long, maximum. Diameter 4 1/2 feet. Color black or dark brown. Four flippers; front ones strong.
Nessie: A Final Analysis
Seen at different times of the day, at different times of the year, in different places all over the Loch. Nessie, the elusive creature of Loch Ness, continues to fascinate our curiosities, our speculations, and our dreams.
After research of the animals for a number of years, various theories have been made about the habits and ways of Nessiteras rhombopteryx. To say that the monsters of Loch Ness permanently live in the lake is, in all likelihood, a false assumption. The Loch, which connects directly to the ocean, makes a perfect habitat for aquatic animals to visit for a number of reasons. But of those reasons, one in particular may give ample evidence as to why Nessie is sometimes seen, and at other times not.
The Loch may serve as a type of breeding grounds for the Elasmosaurus, such as Nessie. Many animals of the animal kingdom have unique places they return to in order to breed. However, this does not exclude the fact that Elasmosaurs do inhabit the lake for normal, living reasons. As stated earlier, the bottom of Loch Ness is extremely cavernous and makes the picture perfect habitat for such large aquatic creatures. Regardless, it may be said without question that the inhabitants of the Loch escape to the ocean whenever they so choose, and return whenever they so choose.
The infinite search for Nessie continues . . . not a search in order to discover "if," but an exciting search to discover "what." Until the time when this question is lay to rest, we can all continue to speculate and dream about the fascinating creature of Ness that has, for thousands of years, captured our hearts and opened our minds to realize that man, in all his pomp, is still learning about the world in which he lives.
Resources For This Article Include The Following:
1. Mysterious Creatures, Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia.
2. Steuart Campbell, The Loch Ness Monster: The Evidence, Birlinn Limited, 1996.
3. Tim Dinsdale, The Story of the Loch Ness Monster, Tandem Publishing Ltd., 1976.