Friday, October 02, 2009

The Loch Ness Monster

Since I was but a wee laddie who liked dinosaurs, I’ve been a fan of the Loch Ness Monster. I’ve sometimes found myself jealous of a gentleman who parked his RV at the edge of the loch and has devoted his life to trying to spot the monster. What a cool life. I don’t think he’s had much success yet, but talk about relaxing. Living at the edge of the water, watching the waves all day. I’ve been watching those waves via documentary for years. The child in me loves the idea that there might actually be something there. And why not? Any monster hunter can give you a list of reasons why it might be possible, despite all the supposed evidence that it isn’t possible. This is a good point. If you REALLY want to believe in something, you can almost always find proof for it. You can believe in Santa Claus if you REALLY want to. In fact, I’ve never been able to have anyone prove that Santa doesn’t exist! Unlikely, perhaps. But that doesn’t mean he’s not there! It’s the same with Nessie, Bigfoot and so many other things.

There was a recent documentary on Discovery channel (that I missed most of, darn it) about the monster which kind of demonstrates the problem. They were trying to figure out exactly what Nessie might be, and they came up with a theory: Nessie is a large sea turtle that has evolved a long neck. Okay. . .but sea turtles lay their eggs on land. So, they theorized that Nessie had also evolved the ability to lay its eggs in the water. Okay. . .but that would mean a breeding population of monsters in the loch. So, they theorized that Nessie also had the ability to lay pre-fertilized eggs, the way that Komodo dragon recently did. Hmmm. Even for evolution, this is a hell of a lot to ask. It’s stuff like this that makes you realize that evolution involves faith as well. This is one of many theories about Nessie that just doesn’t seem to hold water.

Here’s a theory you may not have heard before: Nessie is actually an orm. Of course, how obvious! Eh. . .what’s an orm? An orm is “simply a giant version of the common garden slug, an ancestor of the squid and octopus. A type of ‘Tullimonstrum gregarium, a creature with a shape of a submarine, with a broad tail.’ ” This was the theory of Ted Holiday, who studied the Loch for a time in the 1960s. Pictures of what the prehistoric orm may have looked like do indeed resemble Plesiosaurs. Why haven’t you heard of this theory before? Probably because later in life, Holiday began to believe that Nessie was actually a kind of paranormal vision rather than a real creature. So in a sense, he destroyed his own theory with another one that was probably a lot more crazy.

It’s important to note that Nessie was really made popular by newspapers in Britain. They’re the ones who published the earliest photos of Nessie, including the famous “Surgeon’s Photo,” seen above, which has now been pretty much proven as a fake. That fake photo was used as “proof positive” for many years. I recall one Nessie book going into great detail about how the waves seemed to indicate a large body underneath, and perhaps even another creature underneath. But the guy who helped prove that photo as a fake claims to have actually seen the monster himself. The mystery isn’t over.

If there’s a single spokesman for Loch Ness, it’s probably Adrian Shine. A John Muir look-alike, Shine came to the Loch to find Nessie, and instead found something just as beautiful- the Loch itself. He is an expert on the lake and is often interviewed by people looking for Nessie. Shine is the guy in the old Toyota commercial where a computer-animated Nessie attacks a Toyota truck, and the truck lives to tell the tale. Shine doesn’t believe in Nessie, but during “Operation Deep Scan,” a project he helped create, some unusual sonar readings were taken of moving objects deep within the Loch. But as he said they likely weren’t Plesiosaurs.

Some documentaries don’t go far enough. One Nessie documentary points out that the Plesiosaur needs to come up for air to breathe, and since we don’t see it happening more often, this proves that the Loch Ness monster does not exist. Wrong. It proves that the monster may not be a Plesiosaur. You need to be careful about the conclusions that some of these documentaries make. It may not be the final word.

One of my favorite documentary moments features an unusual reaction to seeing the “monster.” One woman, upon seeing the monster in the loch, took out a gun and shot at it! “In a panic, she reached for her gun,” the documentary states. Now unless the monster was heading directly toward you and licking its chops, I don’t see much of a reason to shoot at it! But the next day, she says that they did find a large sturgeon fish washed up on shore that had been shot. This adds to the theory that the “monster” may be nothing but a natural creature, like a large fish or an eel.

One seldom-seen documentary actually featured some folks documenting a Nessie practical joke. They took part of an overturned boat, and swam with it underwater until they got to the center of the Loch, then pushed the boat above the water for a time, making it move through the waters before submerging. Viewers on the shore did indeed consider it a Loch Ness Monster sighting. The documentary pointed out how easy it can be to create a Nessie hoax.

Let’s do our own mini-Nessie investigation. A photo above Loch Ness recently taken from Google Earth revealed an image of something unusual in the Loch. Is it Nessie? Let’s look at the photo:

The first item that we should notice is that this thing is white. I don’t think most monster hunters would describe Nessie as bright white. Most of what I’ve heard indicates that the monster has a dark skin. (Or does it? According to the article on, some people have said that the monster is white. Of course, these are the same folks who began to think that Nessie was a paranormal vision. So let the buyer beware.)

The second item we should notice is that there’s another weird white shape in the water below and to the left of the supposed monster! What is that? Another one? It doesn’t appear to have the shape of the first one. The fact that there are two weird white shapes in the water means that both likely have the same qualities - whether monsters or just reflections. Yet I haven’t heard anyone talk about the other weird shape. That’s probably because it doesn’t look like Nessie. They only want to look at the evidence they want to see.

The third item we should notice is the unusual way of “swimming” that this object has. Assuming it is heading to the Northwest of the photo, and taking into account the Plesiosaur theory, it means that the monster either has his head and neck down underneath the water, or he is swimming butt-first. I vote for butt-first. I think it’s Nessie’s way of saying, “Take that, you stupid people trying to take my picture!”

My beliefs on Nessie? It’s incredibly unlikely that something like a large unknown animal could live in the Loch without having been proven to exist by now. My logic says “no.” But the Loch is a mysterious place. I think there will always be a monster in the Loch, as long as people keep looking for it. If I ever get lucky enough to visit the Loch, I’ll look out over it and enjoy the beauty. I hopefully will have several hours of fun doing that. I likely will not see the monster. But that will not prove to me that he isn’t there.
ABE AU NATUREL: I wasn’t able (and barely willing) to attend the first D23 Expo in Anaheim. As someone put it, it was Disney’s version of the Comic Con. But everything I’ve seen makes it seem like it was a great event for all involved, with cameos by the muppets, Johnny Depp and others. One notable cameo was none other than Abraham Lincoln. Actually, it was the audio-animatronic robot of Lincoln that was used at Disneyland for many years. (And I understand Abe is scheduled to return to the Disneyland opera house very soon. I eagerly await his return.) Unfortunately, Mr. Lincoln did not give his stirring speech. He didn’t even bother to get dressed! Visitors could see the Lincoln figure with all its gears and wires fully exposed to the world. This must have been rather embarrassing for Abe. How would you like to have a bunch of people looking at your gears and wires all day? It also makes me realize that with its Hall of Presidents in Orlando, the Disney company has one of these figures for EVERY U.S. president. Which creates a rather scary picture. Whose gears and wires will we get to see next time? Reagan’s? Taft’s? Both Roosevelts? Both Bushes? We’ve already had “Let it be. . .Naked” by the Beatles. Is it time for “The Hall of Presidents. . .Naked?” “The Pirates of the Caribbean. . .Naked?” Let’s hope not. But you can enjoy some great photos and commentary on the D23 expo by checking out Todd’s fun post here: