Note: WordPress ate my original post, like some infernal lake-beast encrusted with slime and barnacles, so this version isn’t as in-depth as the original due to lack of patience.
Yesterday, 55-year-old lab tech. Gordon Holmes was in the news for a video he made of a shadowy object in Loch Ness. He claims that “creature” was 45 feet long and moving at a speed of 6 miles per hour, although the video he made lacks a frame a reference for speed or size. Check it out for yourself;
I was surprised to see the famous Surgeon’s Photo show up in news reports heralding Holmes’ video, however; the photo was revealed to be a hoax in 1993. Likewise, one of my most favorite images of “Nessie” (and the photo that convinced me, as a child, that there could be something in the loch) has also been revealed to be a hoax, sinking the idea that some mesozoic sea-going reptile still survives in the cold and cloudy waters of Loch Ness. This hasn’t stopped people from believing whatever they want, however, and the possibility of spotting the monster still acts of a draw to the area.
While Holmes speaks of the video potentially being carefully analyzed, and while the overall quality of the video is good, I don’t think it’s going to tell us anything new about whatever it is that keeps causing the Nessie mythology to continue. Indeed, the Holmes video isn’t very different from plenty of other videos and photographs of long-shadows I’ve seen, none of which point to a plesiosaur or mosasaur living in Loch Ness.
I have to admit that I wasn’t always so skeptical, however, especially in the days before the Surgeon’s Photo was proven to be a hoax and the “flipper photograph” seemed like solid evidence. There were plenty of books and documentaries available about lake monsters and dinosaurs in isolated patches of jungle (see Mokele-mbembe), so who was I to argue with such “authorities”? In the end, Richard Ellis’ book Monsters of the Sea became the only reliable book about strange “hidden creatures” like Cadborosaurus willsi and the chances of Carcharocles megalodon surviving somewhere in the deep, although I still enjoy sitting down to watch some movie-cheese like The Loch Ness Horror and The Legend of the Dinosaurs (in which no actual dinosaurs appear) when I can track them down. Speaking of media cheese, Steve Alten (of MEG fame), recently contributed to the Loch Ness hoax mythology with some stunts meant to publicize his recent book The Loch, proposing that the nasty beast is really a large eel rather than prehistoric reptile. I have yet to read it, and I can’t say it’s a top priority for my summer reading.