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Let’s take a look at this Nessie thing afresh. Go back to May 1933. It’s a quiet week on the local paper, the Inverness Courier. But a local correspondent, who is also a water bailiff and knows the loch well, has written up a report. (By the way, the Scottish Bigfoot picture is at the foot of this page.)
It’s about a disturbance in the water of Loch Ness that had been seen by a couple, a Mr and Mrs Mackay who happened to be running one of the hotels in Drumnadrochit. They’d seen this hump-like thing that had taken off across the loch. The paper publishes with the little headline ‘Strange Spectacle on Loch Ness – What was it?’
It still happens today. The national papers scan the local papers for entertaining little stories and repeat them, sometimes with further embellishment and reporting. Back in 1933, the monstrous hump soon became a monster. Feeding on itself, the news reports generated more sightings, then hoaxers helped to keep the pot boiling and the first expeditions were mounted.
Inverness Town Council was able to vote to reduce its tourism publicity budget for 1934. An Automobile Association patrolman was able to create a loch-side traffic jam simply by pointing out to the loch.
Nope, unless Nessie has an orange head there's nothing in this Loch Ness picture, taken at Dores.
The phenomenon’s most remarkable aspect is that, as a entertaining news topic, it was sustainable for so long, and in turn the whole Nessie business sustained so much of the local tourism economy of the Great Glen.
The 1960s and 70s saw a peak of investigation and sheer numbers of cameras trained on the loch. The sightings, naturally, were in inverse proportion to the numbers of watchers and the focal length of the lenses they carried. (I think someone should represent that mathematically, where ‘n’ is the unknown number as well as the unknown Nessie.)
The Loch Ness Monster comes packaged with one huge advantage. Everyone would like it to be true. Small wonder it has attracted so many curious personalities to the loch over the years. But it’s much bigger business than some guy selling hand-carved wooden, uhmm, beasties from a caravan. From the loch-side exhibitions to boat cruise companies, this is big business. Just like Santa Claus.
This is terribly easy. The first way, as above, is to wait around till you see overlapping boat wakes. These wakes are often created, though only by accident, by the cruise boats taking visitors out to enjoy Loch Ness and, possibly see the monster. So it’s a bit ironic. As two wakes cross each other you get these odd Nessie humps, easily photographed.
The second way is to photograph floating objects. Here’s a fine example of a classic ‘lake monster’. To be honest, I wasn’t even at Loch Ness when I took this picture, but you get the idea.
Show the whole photograph of course and it’s just a tree branch - and a pretty small one at that! This ain't no Nessie.
The third way is to be photographing Loch Ness when something unexpected shows up on the picture, as above. (Cue spoo-ooky music.) Like this tourist picture, taken some years ago. The underside of the gull's wing is transformed into a writhing neck. The bird is flying from left to right and has its wings upraised. I'm a birdwatcher and I can only see it as a gull - I have to concentrate to make it into a neck. It's just how people perceive things......
What do you mean, it sure looks like a neck to you? Here's a picture I snapped of a passing gull. The light isn't striking it at quite the same angle as the 'head and neck' apparently pictured above, but you get the idea.
Aside from these examples, everything else that’s ever been seen or photographed on Loch Ness is explained by either a swimming red deer stag, a line of cormorants, an otter, a family of otters, a small boat very far away, a badly photographed dog swimming with a stick (yes, true!) or any one of the previous seen under mirage conditions when it’s still and warm. Alternatively, it’s an object put in the water as a deliberate hoax. So, enjoy the fun. But don’t take it seriously. There are plenty of reasons for taking an excursion to Loch Ness from Inverness. But seeing a large family of animals unknown to science isn’t one of them.
I’m sorry. Look, would my photograph of the Scottish Bigfoot cheer you up? If so, here he is, above. I saw him in the woods a few years back and was just able to get a shaky shot before the light went…..
If my Nessie bad attitude has damaged part of your personal belief system, the I'm sorry. Perhaps you'd like to take a look at some Nessie -type mysteries in haunted Scotland.
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