Sightings of large serpentine creatures emanate from many lakes throughout the world. Perhaps the most famous lake monster is that said to inhabit Loch Ness in Inverness, Scotland. This creature is affectionately called "Nessie." The earliest written reference to a monstrous creature in Loch Ness dates to the sixth century when Saint Columba supposedly prevented the monster from devouring a man swimming in the loch. Such creatures abound in Celtic folklore. Called "water horses" or "water kelpies" they are considered powerful and malevolent. There are also a dozen or so later references to a creature in Loch Ness before the twentieth century.
The modern saga of the Loch Ness monster began in 1933. That year a new shore road allowed unobstructed views of the northern part of the lake for the first time. In April 1933 a local couple driving along the new road spotted what they described as "an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface." Sightings have continued ever since, along with sonar contacts and blurry photos -- some apparently hoaxed, including the famous 1934 "surgeon's photo."
The verdict is still out on whether a large unknown creature inhabits Loch Ness. Perhaps all sightings are of known creatures or result from natural phenomena such as soliton waves and miniature waterspouts. New expeditions are planned to investigate Loch Ness and other lakes. Perhaps one of these will finally solve the mystery of Nessie or her brethren in other lakes.
See the Lake Monsters section of my cryptozoology links page for more sites offering information about Nessie. Also see my Ogopogo stamps page for another famous lake monster.
This souvenir sheet showing the Loch Ness Monster is part of a set of thirteen entitled "Mysteries of the Universe." This sheet depicts Nessie as a kind of plesiosaur. Plesiosaurs are often suggested as possible candidates for some lake and sea monsters. Plesiosaurs were ocean-going reptiles which flourished during the age of the dinosaurs but became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous like the dinosaurs themselves.
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Last modified by pib on July 6, 2003.