The First Sighting of the Loch Ness Monster

posted: 07/25/16
by: Sasha Brown-Worsham
The Loch Ness
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Dusk on a famous Scottish castle

Today, you can't even mention Loch Ness in Scotland without getting an earful about "Nessie," the beast who allegedly lives beneath her darkened surface. But back in 1933, things were different. The lake had always been known for being home to something strange, but on May 2, 1933, the newspaper Inverness Courier ran a story about a local couple who had seen "an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface." The story quickly went viral, so to speak, with papers in London and all over the world reporting on the sighting. There was even a 20,000 pound reward put up for her capture. Since then, the Loch Ness has become the stuff of lore.

In fact, it's just a lake. A brown, muddy, dark, and deep lake where sighting have been reported for years including just recently when she was spotted on Apple Maps.

But what is she really?

Some speculate that she is a leftover from the dinosaur era, a member of a family of long surviving plesiosaurs, underwater dinosaurs that first appeared in the latest Triassic period and flourished during the Jurassic. They were all over the world's oceans and were allegedly wiped from the Earth some 66 million years ago. Except for Nessie.

Plesiosaur on land
By Heinrich Harder (1858-1935) via Wikimedia Commons

For centuries, there have been reports of strange happenings near the Loch Ness. At its deepest, the lake runs about 800 feet and is massive in scale at 23 miles.

The Loch Ness in Scotland
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Dusk on a famous Scottish castle

In the year AD 500, Picts (a tribal confederation of peoples who lived in what is today eastern and northern Scotland) carved depictions of a strange aquatic creature into standing stones near Loch Ness. A 7th-century biography of Saint Columba, the Irish missionary who introduced Christianity to Scotland, allegedly had an interaction with the beast during which he commanded it to stop killing people. It apparently listened because no deaths have been reported since, especially recently.

Even so, the legend persists. Since 1933 was also the first year a new road was completed and drivers could see the loch, it stands to reason that there might be more sightings. Later in 1933, a another couple said they saw her crossing the road and big-game hunter Marmaduke Wetherell claimed to have found footprints of a large beast. The Daily Mail proclaimed: Monster of Loch Ness Is Not a Legend But a Fact.

In recent years, the loch has been thoroughly examined with sonar, most recently turning up a 30 foot model of the sea creature from the 1969 movie The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.

No proof has ever been submitted. There have been a number of hoaxes, though. The most famous is known as the Surgeon's Photo. It shows a long necked creature sticking up from the murky depths of the lake. See below:

The Surgeon's Photo Hoax of the Loch Ness monster
By Source, Fair use via Wikimedia Commons

The photo, taken by Colonel Robert Wilson was taken on the morning of April 19, 1934, while he was driving that new road around the lake. In 1994 a man confessed to being one of three (including Wetherelle Wilson) and who perpetrated an elaborate hoax using a toy submarine and a serpant's head. So much for that.

In 1975, underwater sonar registered a large, moving object that looked, after development and computer enhancement, like the flippers of an aquatic creature. Skeptics immediately dismissed the findings as human error, but the scientists insist she is plesiosaur and that it is real, indeed. In fact, scientists have experienced strange moving objects beneath the surface of the Loch Ness on multiple occasions since then. Too many to simply dismiss as human error.

As yet, no one has handed in the proof that an ancient relic of the Jurassic era prowls beneath the waves of this giant lake in Scotland. But no one can prove she doesn't either. So for now, she remains a legend and a tourist destination for eager truth seekers from around the globe.