In a recent interview, Nessie-expert Gary Campbell gave voice to the unthinkable – that the world-famous sea-beastie may well be dead.
The shockwaves are still rippling across the loch. For not only have we never had conclusive proof that she ever lived, but now we can only look forward to no conclusive proof that she ever died. It’s all a great disappointment, not least to the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board.
But it’s premature to burn the Nessie paraphernalia right away. Even if she’s gone, there are potentially plenty more fish, or monsters, in the sea. Scotland’s lochs team with these swimming cryptos. Just change the badge on the green wooly toy to Morag and the lucrative line in fluffy green toys can continue under another name.
The earliest reported sighting of a monster was, of course, at Loch Ness when Saint Columba was said to have grappled with a “water beast”. OK, so “grappling” suggests a big, bad fight (and is probably how it would be portrayed in a Hollywood movie) but the saint actually just made the sign of the cross and commanded the beastie to “go back at once”.
Now, some cynics might think that Adomnán – one of Columba’s followers – just made this story up in what would constitute a very early, and largely successful, piece of spin. Whatever the origins, the myth was born.
And why have one monster when you can have many. To date there are beasties sploshing around everywhere from Loch Arkaig to Loch Suaniaval. Some have names – like Lizzie – while most remain unchristened.
The most famous not-Nessie-monster is probably Morag, named after her watery residence in Loch Morar, north of Fort William. Reported sightings of her have been reasonably frequent and descriptions are very similar to her Loch Ness cousin.
The most famous sighting of Morag was in 1969 when Duncan McDonell and William Simpson were fishing the loch. As in all good sea-monster stories, a long, scary creature rushed the boat at speed. In fear and panic they began to shoot at the creature, who swiftly dived beneath the surface. They were both adamant that they had been attacked by a 20-30 feet long monster with humps.
With so many contenders for the crown of the new Nessie it behoves us to question what these things could be. As you’d expect there have been a number of theories, but the most commons ones hold that:
- That the animals are zeuglodons, giant prehistoric snake creatures that palaeontologists believe became extinct over 20 million years ago.
- That they are plesiosaurs – marine dinosaurs.
- These are just logs bouncing on the waves.
- Or the humble sturgeon.
Whatever they are we’d all better hike to the Lochs with binoculars and keep our eyes peeled. 2009 was a duff year for beastie-spotting, so let’s all make sure that 2010 becomes the Year of the Beast.
If you do spot anything, especially in Loch Ness, then let the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club know. They’d be delighted to hear from you.