As a biologist, I am very interested in the concept of cryptids. I believe that they offer a fascinating insight into human perception and psychology. A cryptid is an animal that is not recognized to exist within the mainstream scientific community. There is a lack of evidence for them being real and any hypothesis to support their existence often has a counterargument.
By far, the most famous cryptid of them all is the Loch Ness Monster. I have studied the history of this supposed creature, and my own conclusion is that it is simply the product of human imagination. I have visited Loch Ness in order to better understand why people choose to believe the Monster is real. I looked upon the large body of water and saw a shadow underneath and then a wake splash.
I later discovered that the unusual ripples on the surface of the Loch are common. This is due to large oscillations. The shadow could be explained as me seeing a resident animal such as an otter. Human psychology often draws us to seek explanations for the unexplained. Sometimes, we use folklore for this purpose. However, the scientific reality is that the Loch Ness Monster can easily be explained anyway.
Whilst researching this cryptid, I was surprised at how many hoaxes have been perpetrated. Those who believe in the existence of the creature may not be aware of how successful some of these hoaxes have become. There were several in 1930s where eyewitnesses lied about seeing a strange creature in the Loch. I found a report concerning a big game hunter called Marmaduke Wetherell. It stated that he used casts of hippopotamus feet to create what he claimed were footprints of the Monster.
I believe that the most famous hoax is the “surgeon’s photograph”. It was taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson and shows what appears to be the creature’s head and neck. It resembles that of a dinosaur. This image has influenced the mythology and future depictions of the Loch Ness Monster. I found articles written by Christian Spurling in which he admits to helping to stage the photo. The creature in the image was actually a constructed toy. Furthermore, the uncropped version of it shows just how small the object was.
One of the most common explanations put by scientists I found is that the monster sightings are in fact other animals. When people see a wake that is not the shape of a conventional boat, this could in fact be made by a bird flying over the water. Unusually large eels are sometimes found in Loch Ness. These may be mistaken for “sea serpents”.
I have also seen suggestions that the Greenland shark is responsible for the Monster legends. I read one theory that catfish may be the culprits. The most curious explanation I found was that an elephant was used to stage the photos of the Monster. A 2018 – 2019 DNA sample study found that European eels are inside Loch Ness. However, there was no DNA evidence of large animals such as sharks or catfish.
The human eye can sometimes play tricks. My own hypothesis is that the majority of sightings were of large inanimate objects in the water. The people who saw them assumed they were seeing an animal of great size and unusual shape.
I found an article from 1933 which details how locals of Loch Ness mistook a tree trunk for the monster. It contained a photograph of the object. I can see how easily people could have assumed it was something more fantastical. I also read a series of publications suggesting that Scotch pine logs in particular may be the culprits. As they ferment they rise to the water surface.
I am particularly inclined to believe that a log may be propelled out of the water due to gasses that build as it decays. Propulsion occurs once a resin seal ruptures. Seiches and wakes are also common in this body of water. Optical effects can occur during very windy conditions. The unusual sight I saw at Loch Ness may have been due to a combination of these explanations.