To misquote Sting (who used the Loch Ness Monster as an allegory in the song "Synchronicity II"), there's "nothing" that lurks at the bottom of a dark Scottish Loch. The so-called evidence of its existence is questionable - in some cases, a hoax. Yet, this monster of the deep has managed to avoid logic and reason and exist as a modern-day legend that many are still trying to prove exists.
The Loch Ness Monster (or Nessie as it's commonly known) is a legend that has been around since its first "recorded" sighting in the 6thcentury. Back then, St. Columbia was trying to convert the residents of the area to Christianity when he happened upon Loch Ness Lake and Nessie. It is said that St. Columbia converted Nessie to Christianity after going out onto the water and soothing the beast. For years after that, the myth of Nessie was known by the local, yet was always viewed as a fanciful story of a sea serpent, and the power of Christianity to convert all.
However, the legend took on a new life in 1934 when a curious photo from Dr. Robert Kenneth Wilson was published in a London newspaper showing "proof-positive" evidence of the existence of Nessie. The photo supposedly showed Nessie sticking its head out of the water. The picture caused a sensation that, in some respects, hasn't ended. For more than seventy years, there have been numerous photos, films and eye-witness testimonies trying to affirm the existence of Nessie.
Yet with all this "supposed" evidence, scientific expeditions - both private and public - have yet to produce anything plausible to support its existence. What they did discover is that 1) the lake couldn't support a creature of its size. 2) Nessie needs a family of similar beasts to keep its lineage going - they should be numbering well over thousand and far beyond what the lake can hold 3) there's not enough food to support it. Such a creature needs the ocean. Yet, access to the ocean is by way of a narrow passage and canal with locks. Seals, otters and sturgeon have been spotted going through this passage and entering the lake. However, nothing bigger than those animals have been spotted.
Eye witness testimonies have proven to be unreliable. In many cases, the observer misinterpreted a natural phenomenon such as wind-generated waves or wakes caused by fish or birds. Also, the misinterpretation of flotsam and jetsam on the water has fooled many. The lake has an abundant amount of logs, stumps and branches floating in the water. When the conditions are right, and the eye-witness is far away, the flotsam bobbing in the water can take on the appearance of something "alive" and massive.
So what about photographic evidence? Let's take a look at the most famous photo of Nessie. If one takes a look at the Dr. Wilson photo of the Loch Ness Monster, and he or she may notice something isn't right. The photo was hailed for many years as the best evidence for the existence for the plesiosaur-like creature. The photo, taken from a wide angle, looks more like a duck bobbing on the surface of the water. Also, for a creature purported to be 20 to 30 feet in length with an 8 ft. neck, it appears to be nearly swamped by the ripples of a fairly calm water surface. It looks a little bit like a toy; which is what it exactly turned out to be.
The famous photo was a hoax. The men who took the photo (Wilson, a respected London physician and prankster, attached his name to the project in order to generate media coverage) had taken a toy submarine, attached a plastic dinosaur head and neck to it and set it afloat near the shore of Loch Ness. Sixty years afterward, one of the men confessed on his deathbed to using the make-shift Nessie and photographing it.
Not all photos of Nessie are hoaxes: just misinterpretations. The photos and film will capture something. However, like witnesses to the sightings, they were taken from afar and caught things that could be easily explained as a fish, bird, boat wakes or wind-produced waves. Also, the pictures were grainy or out of focus and not much could be seen from it. The quality of digital film should have improved the ability to capture Nessie in picture or film; however, according to Adrian Shine of Loch Ness Project, the photographed evidence have dwindled during this decade. It appears that with better quality film, the photographers are realizing they are not capturing the image of Nessie; they snapping shots of floating logs, branches and natural occurring wakes and waves.
When it comes to "evidence" for the existence of the Loch Ness Monster something always seems to be wrong with it. The photo or films don't capture its image in a recognizable state; the eye witnesses are usually too far away to make a positive identification; or somebody with a lot of time on his hand is pulling a prank on the public. Either way, the legend isn't dying-and possibly for a good reason. Tourism is a boom in the area, thanks to Nessie. Museums, souvenirs and anything with Nessie's image emblazoned on it has helped sales and the economy in the town of Inverness and other towns around the lake.
For this reason, Nessie will always attract those who are set to prove its existence. However, the evidence strongly suggests that Nessie is a legend, rather than reality.