After the recent decision to give Nessie the limelight in a new push to promote the Loch Ness and Inverness area, the website has now gone live here. I applauded the decision at the time, a loch with a monster is far more interesting than one without. There may have been solicitations to tone down the monster aspect, probably due to a mixture of a "there is nothing there" attitude and wanting to emphasise the other worthy aspects of the area, but commercial common sense prevailed in the end.
With a 2012 poll saying that almost 25% of Scots believe the Loch Ness Monster is probably or definitely real, there is clearly a market out there for Nessie. That percentage will vary according to countries and is definitely influenced by a sense of Scottishness (the same poll gave 33% for people who voted SNP in the last election). But one wonders what the percentage is for people who make the effort to get to Loch Ness?
Indeed, I would presume that the poll's question asking if you think the Loch Ness Monster is real would have prompted thoughts of extinct dinosaurs in respondents' minds which, unfortunately would have skewed perceptions and hence replies. If the question had rather asked whether people thought Nessie could be other things such as a giant eel or some other unknown mega-fish, I believe the percentage would have noticeably gone up.
The website's page on Nessie is concise enough and not surprisingly, non-committal as to the creature's existence. In fact, you could say it is treating Nessie lightly as it mentions some famous photos without passing further judgements. Either way, the time to go back to Loch Ness approaches!
The most famous mystery about Loch Ness surrounds the phenomenon of an enormous creature that is believed to live in the water – known universally as the Loch Ness Monster, or ‘Nessie’ as she’s affectionately known.
The first recorded sighting of the monster was in 565 AD, when it was said to have snatched up and eaten a local farmer, before being forced back into the waters by St Columba.
Over the years, rumours spread far and wide about ‘strange events’ at Loch Ness. Some believe that ancient Scottish myths about water creatures, like Kelpies and the Each Uisge (meaning ‘water horse’), contributed to the notion of a creature living in the depths of Loch Ness.
In 1933, construction began on the A82 – the road that runs along the north shore of the Loch. The work involved considerable drilling and blasting and it is believed that the disruption forced the monster from the depths and into the open. Around this time, there were numerous independent sightings and, in 1934, London surgeon R. K. Wilson managed to take a photograph that appeared to show a slender head and neck rising above the surface of the water. Nessie hit the headlines and has remained the topic of fierce debate ever since.
In the 1960s, the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau conducted a ten-year observational survey – recording an average of 20 sightings per year. And, by the end of the decade, mini-submarines were being used for the first time to explore the depths of the Loch using sophisticated sonar equipment. New public interest was generated in the mid 1970s when underwater photographs of what appeared to be a ‘flipper’ were made public.
To this day, there is no conclusive proof to suggest that the monster is a reality. However, many respectable and responsible observers have been utterly convinced they have seen a huge creature in the water.
Prehistoric animal? Elaborate hoax? Seismic activity? A simple trick of the light? It’s even been said that the whole mystery could be explained by the presence of circus elephants in the area in the 1930s.
Whatever the truth, it’s always worth a trip to Loch Ness to see for yourself.