Call of the Cryptid lake monster trifecta: Pt. 2 — Loch Ness Monster/Nessie


Nessie or Scotland’s Loch Ness monster, is candidate for #1 cryptid. It’s preeminent in many people’s minds when they think of water beasts. Is it real?

The Loch Ness Monster is the focus of my second installment of my 3-part lake monster series. I feel obligated to be really nice to Nessie. Not only could the creature beat me up if it exists, but it’s also a truly classic, legendary cryptid.

Still, let’s be jerks a little bit. It’s easy to scoff at a cryptid. They are elusive by their very nature, tending to be “captured” in shaky video images and blurry photographs.

There’s also the fact that many of these creatures are pretty old. I mean, honestly, how could they go so long without finally being officially recognized?

Nessie happens to go way, way back. Supposedly, the serpentine lake monster was first mentioned by St. Columba, an Irish monk, from 565 AD, in a harrowing account of an encounter. It’s said that, after it attacked one man and threatened another, Columba warded off the “water beast” by a sign of the cross and sternly commanding it: “You will go no further! Do not touch the man! Leave at once!”

That’s right, this guy was basically Gandalf the Grey, according to this legend. Hell, it even makes me think of The Exorcist.

An interesting aspect of this story, of course, is that it depicts Nessie as being violent, whereas most modern accounts seem to identify it as skittish, reclusive and possibly peaceful. Of course, back in Columba’s day, people were more likely to believe in large water monsters, vampires, and other things of a superstitious nature. So what about more modern times?

Modern Nessie

The modern incarnation of “Nessie” was first reported in the Inverness Courier on May 2, 1933, as
“an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface.” Shortly thereafter, another couple claimed to have seen the animal on land. In December 1933, the Daily Mail commissioned hunter Marmaduke Wetherell to find Nessie, and he claimed to find tracks.

However, the tracks were apparently caused by “an umbrella stand or ashtray that had a hippopotamus leg as a base.” Apparently, Marmaduke was also an actor, screenwriter and film director, which means he liked attention.

Then, in 1934, the so-called “surgeon’s photograph” was unleashed, also by the Daily Mail. Taken by R. Kenneth Wilson, it remains one of the most iconic cryptid photos — despite being discredited as being a modified toy submarine.

In fact, Wikipedia says the toy submarine was “bought from F. W. Woolworths, and its head and neck were made from wood putty.” Honestly, it kind of even looks like that! Sometimes Wikipedia isn’t quite reliable, but I think they’re right on this one.

July 1975: Firemen from Hemel Hempstead, London, adding the finishing touches to a seductive female Nessie, intended to lure the Loch Ness Monster from his Scottish depths. The beautiful beast is 30ft long, 14ft high and 10ft wide and is made from oil drums and paper mache. She has an amplified mating call, can puff smoke through her nostrils, and carries a hidden camera to record the momentous meeting. The project is in aid of the Fire Service Benevolent Fund. (Photo by Ian Tyas/Keystone Features/Getty Images)

A messy Nessie is a discovered Nessie!

Does all this mean there is no Loch Ness Monster? Well, as the poster above Fox Mulder’s desk says, “I want to believe.” Still, for better or worse, scientists are actively working to crush our precious beliefs and delusions (maybe they’re the real monsters!).

A multinational team is exploring Loch Ness, using environmental DNA sampling. Their goal? They “hope to establish a thorough list of every living thing in Loch Ness.”

One of them says, “If Nessie really is out there, she won’t be able to hide from us for much longer.”  Basically, they’ll look at all the gross DNA stuff in the water they can find, and they claim they’ll be able to identify new or unknown creatures in the process. If there’s a Nessie, or a Pikachu, or an aquatic Chupacabra in there, they plan to demystify the sucker.

Sleep tight, dear serpent…forever?

If the Loch Ness Monster myth is ever totally abandoned, would people look at those waters the same?  Nope!  Nessie could be an amalgamation of fantastical, frightening and exciting desires, and the need to ask “why” about life in general.

It’s also entertaining, and who wouldn’t want to be the first person who saw an amazing, ultra-rare creature?  In this case, Nessie, but in another, maybe an honest politician.

Nessie probably won’t die for this reason. We want sensory pleasure and excitement. An article in Psychology Today reminds us of “people who go after novelty, complexity, and intense sensations, who love experience for its own sake, and who may take risks in the pursuit of such experience.”

If we aren’t that person, we probably want to be them.  We can live vicariously through their myths.

Loch Ness Monster’s legacy

The Loch Ness monster can be found in many places. For example, Zak Penn’s mockumentary Incident at Loch Ness is pretty fun. The movie also stars Werner Herzog, which almost guarantees it’ll kick a little ass (and I’ll probably give a full review eventually).

There’s also a Nessie ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. They say “’Nessie’ hurls its passengers along 3,240 feet of steel track into the air, over water, and through a dark cave.” Remember what I said about thrill-seeking? Also, according to BBC News, the Loch Ness monster had plenty of “official” sightings in 2017.

Finally, while researching this article, I stumbled upon yet another purported creature. On Halloween of 2016, ABC News ran a story about “The Chena Chomper,” or the “American Loch Ness Monster” spotted in some Alaskan waters. The news team speculates it could be a large sturgeon, or “zombie salmon” (yes, they used those words).

Next. High Moon: Werewolves and motorcycles meet modern western. dark

It was admitted by the Bureau of Land Management that they doctored the video by adding music and adjusting its speed. Still, if you look at the footage just right, it looks a little life-like. Also, I could swear I see Nessie winking at me, and I’m tempted to wink right back!

What are your thoughts on the Loch Ness Monster? Splash waves at us in the comments!