The Loch Ness Monster: Fact or Fiction?

Essay by courlove7 October 2003

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Welcome to Scotland, the home of Shrek's accent, Braveheart and haggis. Located at the northernmost tip of Great Britain, it has a history rich in tradition and folklore. It is also the home of the largest lake in the United Kingdom. Loch Ness Lake is nearly 23 miles long and, in some places, its depth exceeds 750 feet. Who knows what exactly is beneath the surface of such a massive body of water... Could there really be a monster lurking in the waters?

One of the most enduring mysteries of the Western World is whether there is indeed a creature inhabiting Loch Ness Lake. The legend of Nessie, as the monster has been nicknamed, goes back more than a millennia. In the 6th century, St. Columba, the Irish monk responsible for converting most Scots to Christianity, is said to have been the first to see the monster. In fact, Columba apparently converted the creature also, in order to stop it from killing any more humans, as it had been rumored to be doing.

Renewed interest, especially on a scientific level, was sparked in 1934 when London physician Dr. Robert Kenneth Wilson took a picture of the alleged beast. The photograph showed a long neck, reminiscent of the prehistoric plesiosaur, which craned out of the water. Until that moment, Nessie was the stuff of myth and legend. The Wilson picture, however, gave scientists something to brood over. The picture was examined by experts the world over. Early verdicts claimed that the photograph didn't appear to be a fake. Nevertheless, it wasn't a clear substantiation that the picture was indeed of an undiscovered sea serpent. After all, it could just as well have been an otter or a tree trunk.

In the early 1990s, two members of an expedition looking into the...