The beloved and legendary creature that has led sceptics and believers alike to spend many hours by the side of the Scottish loch in the hope of seeing ‘Nessie’ as she is affectionately known to the locals.
In 565 AD St Columba is reputed to have been the first to have witnessed the appearance of the monster when it attempted to take the life of a brother monk swimming on the loch. The monster is said to have disappeared when St Columba shouted out ‘Go no further, nor touch the man! Go back!’ as Nessie approached. The monster has been the subject of much speculation ever since with the biggest interest occurring after an alleged sighting on April 28 1933 three-quarters of a mile off from the north shore of the loch. The body was said by the two locals to have resembled a whale. Weatherall, a game hunter investigated the possibility of a monster in 1934 but with no success. Later that year RK Wilson produced a photograph alleged to indicate the head and neck of the monster (the picture is still undisputed). A further sighting in 1960 by Tim Dunstall drew attention again by producing a 16mm film containing images of Nessie swimming across the loch; from the publicity generated a society was developed to research all sightings and to find evidence. The Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau (LNI) grew but evi dence was not forthcoming. The LNI joined with the Academy of Applied Science in 1972. Efforts increasing to use underwater sonar and dolphins carrying cameras that would be activated by sonar. Footage from 1975 alleging to demonstrate the presence of Nessie was later discovered to be that of a tree stump. In 1974 the Loch Ness and Morar Project built upon the scientific research with ‘Operation Deepscan’ beginning later in 1987 with seasonal information to be gathered by Project Urquhart. Despite the Natural History Museum and the Freshwater Biological Association maintain a presence at the loch with the vessel Calanus having sounding systems, video and sonar.
Evidence that Nessie exists has not yet been produced with findings focusing on the geological make-up and fish stocks within the loch. The fake photographs have abounded in the twentieth century but still extensive research continues. If all the sightings have been proved to be unfounded reports, the existence of such scientific interest at the loch does beg the question as to why it remains a focus of such interest. The legend does not appear to have diminished the power or the possibility of such a monster inhabiting such quiet waters.
Sir Peter Scott (son of explorer Robert Falcon Scott), a member of an investigation team in the '70s, dubbed the creature Nessiteras Rhombopteryx, which some skeptics noted was an anagram of "Monster hoax by Sir Peter S."