Friday 21 February 2014

Is Nessie Dead?

Authorities, locals and travellers alike have all become concerned in recent years with a sharp drop in reported sightings of the Loch Ness Monster. The legendary and elusive creature living in the depths of Scotland's biggest lake have swept the world and become the hottest topic in cryptozoology, the search for unknown animals, see: The beast was virtually unheard of before the 20th Century, mostly because there were no major roads allowing access to the Loch; sightings peaked in the middle of the century, sadly as a result of some proven fake photoes. Now, although interest in the subject remains high and even celebrities like Charlie Sheen are involved in the hunt, sightings have declined. The Mail Online article claims that there has been no evidence confirmed as genuine for ninety years; I dispute this, however there is no doubt that the regularity of Nessie reports has thinned out considerably, at least since the turn of the millennium and maybe before. Some people are wondering if the creature has become extinct.

However, I think the lament for Nessie is happily premature. For one thing, what could cause a large animal like the Loch Ness Monster to die out? Any changes to the Loch's environment or food chain would have been spotted immediately by the wildlife monitors and biologists who scan the lake regularly. Also when we're talking about evidence for the Monster's existence we are talking about an admittedly significant signal-to-noise ratio problem; what we've seen is a sharp decline in the noise. Skeptics would say that this is because there never was any signal at all and that all we ever have had is noise, all generated by the series of fakes like the Surgeon's Photo. There have been far fewer fakes ergo there have been far fewer sightings. Again, I don't agree; there are still photoes and film footage appearing occasionally that are perhaps dismissed too hastily, like this one: This is combined with a number of credible eye-witness reports. I doubt very much if Nessie is dead; she is probably as alive and well as she's ever been. The reason for the slump in her profile probably is the lack of modern fakes, and that's something we should rejoice. The wheat is being more easily sorted from the chaff and that can only be a good thing. Loch Ness is filled with opaque peat-stained water and it is huge, over 20 miles long and averaging a mile wide. It's almost a thousand feet deep in places and science knows less about its abyss than it does about some of the outer planets of our solar system. It's not implausible at all that the Loch Ness Monster is swimming somewhere down there, shying away from human contact, waiting to be discovered. I don't accept that Nessie has "moved to Australia". Loch Ness is only one of many places in the world where unknown aquatic creatures have been seen; it is just by far the most famous. What has been reported in Australia is probably one which has always been native to that part of the world, although it could be the same species as Nessie, or something very similar. Who knows, maybe proof of the existence of these beasts will not come from their Scottish heartland, but from somewhere else.

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