April - Species in the Spotlight: TLNM

April’s species of the month is an ancient, rare and elusive animal. It is known to inhabit only one location… A Scottish loch. Have you guessed what it is yet?

Introducing, The Loch Ness Monster!

The Loch Ness Monster (Nessie) has only been sighted around 1,000 times since the ‘first sighting’ in 586AD by Christopher Columbus. It has been reported that Nessie has a long-neck, and either one or two humps that stick out the water. It is also extremely large and has “the behaviour of an otter”, as described by Arthur Grant in 1934.

The first documented modern discussion on the animal occurred in 1870 when D. Mackenzie saw something “wriggling and churning up the water”. The first official article on the Loch Ness Monster was then written on May 2nd 1993 in ‘The Courier’, but there were some articles before then:

“The creature disported itself, rolling and plunging for fully a minute, its body resembling that of a whale, and the water cascading and churning like a simmering cauldron. Soon, however, it disappeared in a boiling mass of foam. Both onlookers confessed that there was something uncanny about the whole thing, for they realised that here was no ordinary beast, in taking the final plunge, sent out the waves that were big enough to have been caused by a passing steamer.”

Since then there have been various reports, pictures, and sonar results claiming that Nessie is real… The first infamous picture of Nessie was known as ‘The Surgeon’s’ photograph, as photographer Dr Robert Kenneth Wilson, did not want to be associated with it at first - I suppose you don’t want this sorta thing to make you look ‘unprofessional’... Sceptics have since dismissed the photograph and identified the figure as driftwood, an otter, a bird, and even an elephant ?!

In 1987, Operation Deepscan was carried out. This serious research cost £1 million and used high tech (at the time) sonar to try and find Nessie. However, to no avail, the research ended inconclusively. Most recent research was carried out in 2019 by taking eDNA samples from various parts of the loch. Researchers found large amounts of eel DNA in the loch… Could Nessie be large eel?

There are many theories as to whether Nessie is in fact a plesiosaur, an extinct large marine sauropterygian reptile that lived during the early part of the Jurassic Period but is now thought to be extinct. The plesiosaur has a long and slender neck, large turtle like body, and two elongated paddles, much like Nessie is claimed to look like…

Sceptics of an extinct dinosaur living in the Loch believe Nessie to be a Greenland Shark, which is more than possible due to glaciation periods

that would have allowed various animals to travel to Scotland.

Professor Henry Bauer (chemistry and science studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) claims that Nessie exists (in a paper, see link below). On January 19th 2021, he released a statement to the media that Nessie is in fact a type of ancient turtle that has been trapped since the last ice age…

Whether Nessie is an elephant, an otter, a turtle, or an extinct dinosaur he/she has featured in a variety of shows such as Scooby Doo, and also had 2 features in Doctor who in the 1970’s and 1985.

So far this year there have been 6 Nessie sightings in Loch Ness, the most recent being on St Patricks Day.

There are so many theories behind what might lurk in the depths of the loch. Maybe we’ll never know! Maybe it’s best we don’t know…

Nessie Popping Up For Saint Patrick's Day?! 🍀A Possible Sighting - YouTube

Bauer, Henry. (2002). The case for the Loch Ness ''Monster'': The scientific evidence. Journal of Scientific Exploration. 16. 225-246.

Loch Ness Monster Sighting | River Monsters - YouTube