The Loch Ness Monster is one of the most famous mysteries in the world, at least it used to be. Nicknamed Nessie, it’s a creature that’s said to be inhabiting in Loch Ness, a large and deep freshwater lake in Scottish Highland.
The first recorded sighting of Nessie dates back to 565AD… but the whole monster-fever probably started in 1934 when the infamous Surgeon’s Photo (pic) was published and shocked the world.
[The photo was however discovered to be a hoax in 1993, more details at the end of this article]
Since then, numerous sightings were reported, some with pics or videos but none of the images could clearly prove the existence of the Loch Ness Monster.
Some of the “evidences” were proven hoax, while some others might be genuine but inconclusive. Critics believe that lots of those genuine images were actually objects like flock of water-birds, wood logs, boats and natural phenomena etc.
So, what is the Loch Ness Monster?
Most of the early sightings assembled the creature to the mythological sea-serpent. However, after the Surgeon’s Photo was published… amazingly lots of the new claims began to assemble a plesiosaur, an extinct dinosaur. The discovery of a coelacanth in 1938 , a prehistoric creature off the east coast of South Africa, further convinced believers that a plesiosaur or dinosaur-era species could exist at Loch Ness.
Surgeon’s Photo – the hoax
Then came the crushing blow in November 1993, as Christian Spurling confessed on his deathbed, that he had made the monster with his own hands. He told the story to two Loch Ness researchers, David Martin and Alastair Boyd.
The hoax was set up by Spurling’s stepfather, Marmaduke Wetherell (a self proclaimed big-game hunter) as revenge upon the Daily Mail newspaper. In 1934 the paper hired Wetherell to find the Loch Ness Monster, and he found some strange tracks near the water which he thought was a breakthrough discovery.
However, it was later revealed by the Museum of Natural History that the tracks he found were most probably from a baby hippopotamus, and Wetherell was ridiculed by the press and friends. Soon after the incident, Spurling was approached by Wetherell to build a model, which he did.
Wetherell’s son, Ian, was believed to be the person who took the photo. They knew that they need a respectable person to send in the photo to make it more convincing; and they found a famous London surgeon (hence the Surgeon’s Photo), Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson, to claim the photoshoot.
The photo was sold to Daily Mail and generated wide interest after it was published. The trio was probably unprepared for the publicity the photo generated and decided not to reveal the hoax, thus the legend stayed on until decades later.
Lots of believers still think that the Loch Ness Monster does exist despite the exposed prank, taking into account of other sightings from various sources.
With references from Wikipedia.