This is my second My Serious Universe post, though I’m already going to break with my rules and not cover a Mysterious Universe post. Well, not directly anyway. My subject is the news that Loch Ness may be deeper than previously, and while Mysterious Universe did cover it, their article was so half-assed I can only assume the author, Paul Seaburn, didn’t find the subject very interesting.
Instead I’m going to use as my source material an article from the Scottish Daily Record titled “Nessie’s underwater hideaway? Video shows world famous Loch Ness has just got even deeper“. Being from Scotland, I think this paper was the first to report the story, or at least closer to first.
So what’s the claim, in a nutshell? A skipper of a sightseeing vessel on Loch Ness is saying that he’s sounded the bottom of the lake and found a part that’s 76 feet deeper than the previously recorded deepest part of the lake.
Not to be completely flippant, but I can’t help but hear this and think, “So what?” Are mythical monsters more likely at 889 feet down than 813 feet? Is there a monster limit?
The spin that monster believers are putting on this news is that the deeper measurement represents a trench the monster could be hiding in, but statements like that make me wonder what people think the Loch Ness Monster is. If it’s a mammal or reptile it would have to surface regularly to breathe so it couldn’t spend all its time in a trench; if it’s a large fish or amphibian it would have to hunt for food outside that trench; and if it’s any kind of animal there would have be a breeding population that probably wouldn’t fit in one trench. I think there’s a weird assumption some people have that the Monster is literally a monster, some sort of unique animal outside of science that specifically tries to hide from humans, but if that’s the case why would it need a trench at all? Ghosts hide from people too, but believers don’t assume there are hidden rooms they go to in order to hide. Hiding is intrinsic in their nature, and if you’re going to assume the Loch Ness Monster is supernatural why not just assume hiding is intrinsic to it too?
Also worth mentioning, the person making the claim, Keith Stewart, has a pretty obvious profit motive for trying to make the Loch seem more mysterious than it really is. His company runs tours for people paying to look for the monster, so I wish the papers reporting the story had tried to verify his claims a little more.
One other reference in the Daily Record article is worth discussing. To quote:
In 2013, there was a 2.4 magnitude quake in the loch – this was when Nessie disappeared for a whole year for the first time since 1925.
This is odd, because the Loch Ness Monster didn’t really exist until 1933, so how can it have appearances in 1926-1932? I assume the authors of the article used the site The Official Loch Ness Monster Sighting Register, which in turn just republishes an appendix from the 1985 Henry Bauer book The Enigma of Loch Ness. You can look at the pages for the period immediately before 1933 yourself, and the first thing you’ll notice is some very sloppy fact checking on the part of the Daily Record because 1928 has no sightings either. (I haven’t been able to find another 1928 sighting in any other source.) And notice how the sightings before 1933 are sparse, and almost entirely retroactive; that is to say, people are claiming to have seen the monster in those earlier years, but not telling anyone about it until they’re quoted in books and articles years and years later. By contrast, once you hit 1933 most of the sources are roughly contemporaneous to 1933, meaning that the sightings were being given to the press immediately, and the sightings are far, far, more numerous. This is a dead giveaway that the monster was really created in 1933, as a pop culture construct, as opposed to a real animal.