Fifty years ago sightings of the Loch Ness Monster were common but sightings of ‘Nessie’ have decreased over the last few years and extensive and thorough scanning of the Loch Ness by scientists and researchers have failed to produce any evidence of a creature despite what the local businesses tell you. This has led many to believe (sadly), that if a gentle, secretive creature had ever lived in Loch Ness then it had passed on.
So what could the monster have been? Loch Ness is huge; It is 23 miles long and about one mile. It is 786 feet at its deepest point and is the deepest and one of the largest bodies of fresh water in Britain. The loch is home to Atlantic salmon, charr, eels, minnows, large pike, sticklebacks, sturgeon, trout and various other fish. Seals and otters also live in Loch Ness, but are rarely seen.
The Loch Ness Monster may have been sighted as early as the 6th century, but Nessie as we know it today is largely a product of the 20th century. On May 2, 1933, an Inverness newspaper ran an article called "A Strange Spectacle on Loch Ness" that described how Mrs. Aldie Mackay encountered the creature on the Scottish lake near Aldourie Castle. This was not the first sighting of the Loch Ness creature, but it was in that year that it was dubbed a monster and the report was widely circulated. Later that year (22nd July 1933) a Mr and Mrs Spicer saw something while passing the loch on their way to London from Northern Scotland, the couple saw the large creature crossing the road in front of them. Mr. Spicer told the newspaper that it looked like a large prehistoric creature and was carrying a small lamb or some other animal in its mouth. He described it as being about 25 feet long with a long neck. He believed it disappeared into the loch. In November of that year the first photo of the alleged monster was taken by Hugh Gray. The creature was even said to have been spotted in 1972 by a monk at the Fort Augustus Abbey, Father Gregory Brusey, was walking with an organist when they both saw the neck and head of the creature protruding about 6 feet above the loch's surface. They said it moved through the water, turned on its side and submerged.
So assuming no such creature actually exists or ever existed (there have been thorough sonar examinations of the Loch which have found nothing) what could people be seeing?
Having spent a week at the Loch’s side, the water does look odd in places and it is easy to see how this could be interpreted as a creature. The Loch is tidal and has currents which often make the water seem part or have something small protruding out of it – the Loch is not well lit (our cottage was completely dark once the sunlight had gone and the weather in this area of Scotland is turbulent) which could alter peoples perceptions. Once one person has said they have seen something strange others might interpret their visions in the same way. Mass hysteria (however mild) is something that any serious student of the paranormal or other such odd occurrences should be wary of.
Another idea that has been theorized is that a majority of ‘zooform’ creatures are ‘tulpas’, or unintentional manifestations created by the human psyche. There is also the possibility that such phantasms, or monsters from the id, can be created intentionally. One such example was researched by George Foot Moore, an American Orientalist and religious historian, who died in 1931, who took on the view that ‘monsters’ are mental projections, (although it has never been explained as to how several people can muster a creature). However, over the centuries such ‘monsters’ have been born in the form of dragons, fairies, phantom hellhounds and the like, to the modern day manifestations known as Mothman, the Jersey Devil and the Bray Road Werewolf of Wisconsin.
Polish expert Julian Ochorowicz coined the term ‘ideoplastic’, which he used to describe the unconscious power of a medium to create tangible and apparently autonomous physical forms. Another Polish researcher, Franek Kluski was said to have caused the materialization of more than two-hundred apparitions, mostly in the form of animals. His most famous manifestation, or projection was the shaggy ape-man which appeared at a séance on 20th November 1921, under the supervision of Professor Geley. The bizarre beast materialized and Geley felt the apparition rub shoulders with him, and also give off a pungent stench. This monster resembled a similar ape-man conjured on August 10th 1923, and was said to have lifted several chairs (which women were sitting on at the time) and also overturned a sofa. Famous ghost hunter Harry Price also partook in several séances where ‘ghosts’ of children were manifested.
Whatever is in the Loch (or not) it is a beautiful pace to visit. Why not go and see if you can spot ‘Nessie’ yourself?