|The Loch Ness "monster"
-- affectionately known as "Nessie" -- is an alleged plesiosaur-like
creature living in Loch Ness, a long, deep lake near Inverness, Scotland.
Many sightings of the "monster" have been recorded, going back
at least as far as St. Columba, the Irish monk who converted most of Scotland
to Christianity in the 6th century. Columba apparently converted Nessie,
too; for it is said that until he went out on the waters and soothed the
beast, she had been a murderess.
The modern legend of Nessie begins in 1934 with Dr. Robert Kenneth Wilson, a London physician, who allegedly photographed a plesiosaur-like beast with a long neck emerging out of the murky waters. That photo created quite a fuss. Before the photo, Loch Ness was the stuff of legend and myth. The locals knew the ancient history of the sea serpent. But people came to the lake more to relax than to go on expeditions looking for mythical beasts. After the photo, the scientific experts were called in. First, they examined the photo itself. Could be a plesiosaur. Yes, but it could be a tree trunk, too. Or an otter. Later, there would be explorations by a submarine with high tech sensing devices. Today, we have a full-blown tourist industry said to have generated about $37 million in 1993, complete with submarine rides (about one hundred bucks an hour in 1994) and a multi-media tourist center. For those who can't go to Scotland, there is a webcam site for your viewing pleasure.