Lair of the Beasts: What is the Loch Ness Monster? -

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Lair of the Beasts: What is the Loch Ness Monster?

Polling Nessie

By Nick Redfern     November 05, 2011

Two-hundred-and-fifty-million years ago, movements in the earth’s crust led to the creation of a huge rift across Scotland that, today, is known as the Great Glen. As the centuries passed, the deeper parts of the Glen filled with water, and it now exists in the form of three main bodies of water: Loch Oich, Loch Lochy, and Loch Ness.  For more than a century and a half, they have been connected by the sixty-mile-long Caledonian Canal, which provides a passage for small boats from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
By far the largest of the three lochs is Loch Ness. Nearly twenty-four miles in length and almost a mile wide, it contains more water than any other British lake and at its deepest point, extends to a mind-boggling depth of almost one thousand feet.
Surrounded by trees, mountains, and filled with water as black as ink, it is little wonder that Loch Ness is viewed by many as both a magical and a sinister location. And as practically anyone who has ever marveled at the mysteries of our world will only be too well aware, the loch is the alleged home of Nessie – arguably the world’s most famous lake monster.
But what, exactly, are the beasts of Loch Ness? That is, not surprisingly, a question that provokes a great deal of controversy. Indeed, just recently over my blog There’s Something in the Woods, I polled the readers on what they thought Nessie – or, rather, the Nessies – might actually be. The results were as mixed as they were intriguing.
Of the many people who voted, a full twenty-five percent believe that the Loch Ness Monsters are plesiosaurs – marine reptiles generally accepted as first having appeared in the early Jurassic era.
On the other hand, six percent were sure that the most likely candidates for whatever lurks within the darkened depths of Loch Ness are monstrously huge, giant eels. Of course, the idea that Nessie is just an eel might disappoint some people, and particularly Scotland’s tourist industry, which pulls in millions of pounds in revenue each year from the sale of Nessie-themed t-shirts, caps, tea-cups, flags and much more.
But, if you’re faced with a thirty-foot-long eel, with a body the thickness of an oil-drum, heading towards you at high speed, you’re probably not going to quibble with the idea that this is a true monster!
Interestingly, more than a quarter of the people polled concluded that there is nothing strange, unusual or monstrous within Loch Ness at all, and that all of the reports can be explained away as misidentifications (of waves, of logs, and of large fish of a known nature, such as sturgeon), hoaxes, and not much else.
I also found it interesting that more than one in ten of those who responded to the poll suggested that rather than being animals of a flesh and blood nature, Loch Ness’ creatures of the deep have nothing less than paranormal or supernatural origins.
The overriding majority of all those who voted, however, concluded that whatever the nature of the beasts of that old, mysterious Scottish loch, they were – in all probability – animals that were definitively real, but that represented creatures presently unknown to mainstream science and zoology.
So, what does all of this tell us? Well, of course, no poll can accurately offer a definitive explanation for anything. But, if nothing else, what the results of this poll do tell us is that even within the realms of monster-hunting and cryptozoology, there are major differences of opinion on what does, or indeed does not, live within the confines of Loch Ness, Scotland. The mystery remains precisely that: A mystery.
Nick Redfern is the author of many books. His new book – Keep Out! – is published in December.


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karas1 11/5/2011 5:53:28 AM

I thought that a few weeks ago you explained Nessie away as the ghost of a plesisaur.

I'm afraid that I am in the camp of people who think Nessie is a hoax and a string of misidentifications by people with big imaginations.  Scotland is too well settled an area with populations going back several thousand years for there to be so large an animal living there and there hasn't been conclusive proof of it's existence.  If there really were Nessies in the loch, somebody would have caught one or found a dead one hundreds of years ago.

But if they did exist, would they be related to Champ from Lake Champlain or other lake monsters from around the world?

NickRedfern 11/5/2011 8:31:26 AM


Wrong. The theory about the Loch Ness Monster being a ghost was referenced by me in a previous post. However, if you go back and read it, you'll see the info came from author Jim Marrs, writing about the opinions of the US Government's remote-viewers who came up with the ghost theory. I commented on Marrs' words, whio was commenting on what the remote-viewers said, which is very different to specifically me having "explained Nessie away as the ghost of a plesisaur," as you worded it.

Yep, there's all sorts of reasons why Nessie (or Nessies) may not exist. As I note in this article above, "no poll can accurately offer a definitive explanation for anything." Which is true. And that there are so many theories for the "creature" is indicative of one thing: a lack of any evidence at all provokes a wealth of theories.

It's the same with all lake monsters - absolutely no hard evidence, but a lot of theorizing. I don't know how we could ever say that Champ and Nessie are related. After al, it would require evidence (a body, DNA etc) to comapre the two. But I'm pretty confident that won't happen.


spiderhero 11/5/2011 8:58:58 AM

I was fascinated with the Loch Ness monster as a kid. read all kinds of books. I eventually came to the conclusion there really is no creature there at all.

But it sure is fun to speculate about.

InnerSanctum 11/6/2011 1:20:42 PM

 I agree that Loch Ness is creepy all in itself.  There is no doubt that one get's the sense that there is something unusual and creepy about the place.  Monster or not.  It just sets the stage for mystery (if you skip the random shops hocking stuffed Nessies, etc.) Just the thought of Alestier Crowley lurking around Loch Ness at one point could make one's imagination run wild.  It, along with Roswell, are must see vacation spots for all of those who enjoy the bizzare.  Or, you could just go to Comic Con.  : )

Gael 11/7/2011 5:55:27 PM

 It is hard to believe that an ancient creature could survive in that Loch for so many years....yet, I do believe it is there. Have there ever been any reports of injuries from attacks or missing fishermen that have gone unexplained. It seems that Nessie might be not as mean as some folks say. One day I hope to return home to Scotland and enjoy the hospitality of my bretheren and members of the Maxwell clan. But, I am just a poor American bidding my time until retirement when I can travel....

NickRedfern 11/8/2011 7:03:19 AM


There are one or two reports/rumors of attacks, the most famous being that of St Columba, first recorded in the 7th century but which is believed to date from the 6th century, in which a man is allegedly killed by the creature. But, it a very old story, steeped in legend and not much in the way of fact, and (despite what some have claimed) it occurred not in Loch Ness, but in the River Ness - a river that flows from Loch Ness.

I guess it could have some truth to it, but the age of the story means we'll never get any more data than we have now. If you like horror fiction, you might enjoy Steve Alten's novel, The Loch. It's a story of horror and conspiracy at Loch Ness - and deaths too LOL. It's a good, atmospheric story.


Vorthe 1/14/2012 11:52:03 PM

I once saw a show about Loch Ness, where they interviewed 3 different people who have lived on Loch Ness all there lives, and sure enough, all 3 said they has seen the monster on at least one occasion, and all three described radically different creatures.  While hardly conclusive, I can't help but feel that is fairly persuasive evidence that the thing isn't real.  I would have to think that if there were a real creature, there would be some sort of consensus concerning it's appearance among the locals.  Still, I wouldn"t mind if I'm wrong.  "Hope for the best, expect the worst". Without any real evidence to the contrary, that's the best I can do.



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