Since the “monster”s first sightings theories have abounded to what it is. I thought I would examine a few in a brief fashion.
1)Plesiosaur- much as I would love Nessie to be a prehistoric creature, the fact the loch only formed about 10000 years ago rather puts the dampers on that idea. However always the open minded I looked at the possibilities. The first one is that as plesiosaurs appeared to be air breathers they would surface a lot more and therefore would be seen more regularly. It is not impossible that a water breathing plesiosaur has evolved (evolution rocks don’t you think!), but unlikely. There are good fish stocks in the Loch including migratory salmon, so I find claims there is not enough fish in the loch not really substantial enough as a reason for there not being a colony of creatures in the Loch. The amount of activity on the Loch would mean someone would have been eaten by now if it was a plesiosaur, either a swimmer or a fisherman would have been washed ashore all chewed. (Sorry if you are eating right now, but you shouldn’t eat over the keyboard anyway) I know from time I have spent at the Loch there are local people who will not venture out on the loch at night so something keeps them home on shore and it’s not the TV.
The loch has constant temperature and doesn’t freeze but some say it would be too cold for a plesiosaur. However research in the last few years has shown that many prehistoric creatures continued on in the Antarctic after they had died out elsewhere, including plesiosaurs, and the water would have been a lot colder than they were used to. Still the peaty black waters of the loch would not have been inviting I don’t think, they were used to clear waters .So unless a very shy underwater possibly vegetarian plesiosaur has evolved in the Loch, I find I have to put this theory to one side.
2) Elephant- this was a rather fanciful notion put forward that it was an elephant swimming in the loch. This is where not doing your research properly shows up, how many elephants have been living around Loch Ness since the first reports in the 1500’s. ? Not a lot I imagine and elephants from visiting circuses would not have been around that often. Nice try but poorly thought out and researched by someone who doesn’t know the history of the Loch.
3) Seismic activity- well there is seismic activity that happens in the Loch and shocks from Inverness could travel down the river causing waves in the Loch. However it wouldn’t have a long neck. It would show strange wave formations and maybe blow a bit of debris from the bottom that could be mistaken for an animal. The problem here is the movement would not be animate like an animal swimming, but certainly would be an explanation for some sightings.
4) Psychological/optical illusion- well yes, if you think you will see something, there is a chance you will. I have seen people in cubicles in a lab subject to atmosphere changes that means they think they see UFO’s and by bouncing sounds waves off the walls, too low for the human ear to hear, they see ghosts. But the Loch is not a lab and not everyone sees something. Again some sightings may be down to the desire to see something or an optical illusion from the reflections of the hills in the loch, but people tend to be not looking for something when they do see Nessie.
5) There was a BBC programme that put forward the theory that mass or media hysteria after the King Kong film was shown in 1933 caused the rash of sightings .However there was no cinema, no King Kong film and no road present when sightings were recorded from 1527 to 1932.Once again lack of research marred what otherwise was a good programme. Like most people the programme researchers assumed that sightings only started in 1933.
6) Eel- a large sterile eel is a real possibly. It would have to be very large though to cause the sightings. However there would also have to have been a) more than one b) it would have to be long lived. The loop of a large eel would look like the ‘hump’ people say they have seen. It may be there is a colony of very large eels living in the bottom of the loch.
7) Seal- there are seals and otters seen on and around the loch. A line of them swimming could look like a monster‘s coils, but local people see this all the time and are not likely to be fooled by it. It brings us back to the long neck people say they have seen. The only way that could be possible is if it were either a long necked pinniped or a very large long necked otter. Most people will have seen the excellent article, Michael A. Woodley, Darren Naish and Hugh P. Shanahan wrote , in the March 2009 edition of Historical Biology , a groundbreaking paper, “How many extant pinniped species remain to be described?”
8) Hoax- there has been many hoaxes around Loch Ness. Even if every photo and film were a hoax, which I doubt knowing Tim Dinsdale and others who took films and photos, it cannot explain every sighting.
9) Primitive whale – again possible, but how did it get there? I always thought the loch was only accessed via the River Ness and therefore would be difficult for anything large to have travelled up it unseen as it would have had to be a pair to set up a breeding colony. Then I found this :
British and U.S. scientists claim they have evidence that the sea extended into Loch Ness at two points in history: after the Ice Age in Europe (125,000 years ago) and 12,800 years ago. A geologist working with a research team in 2001 noticed the clay on the anchor of their boat looked different from other deposits found in the same part of the Loch. Carbon dating and amino-acid testing on the clay indicated that it contained clams and sea urchin spines from both 12,800 and 125,000 years ago. This discovery would tend to lend credence to the theory that large animals could have become trapped in the Loch as the water receded back to the sea. Source: The Press and Journal (North Scotland).
So it could be likely that some creatures got into the loch and adapted and stayed. After all eels live in both saltwater and fresh water at various times in their lives.
So where does that leave us? Well of the thousands of the sightings reported of something in the loch, only something like a couple of hundred stand up to real scrutiny. That is not to say the others are false or hoaxes but using scientific rigour cuts down the numbers a lot. That still leaves us with some unexplained sightings. I saw something myself in the loch, but what it was, that lump in the water I don’t know. It was too brief and I was too stunned and when I looked again it was gone. I am happy to believe it was an optical illusion, that makes me feel better, but in reality I think something stirs in the bottom of Loch Ness and has done for a long time. Dan Scott Taylor told me something spun his 5000 lb submarine around in the water at the bottom of the loch, that is some optical illusion!