Two new sightings of the Loch Ness Monster?

As the vote on Scottish independence looms, one of Scotland’s most famous residents appears to have weighed into the argument – the Loch Ness Monster.

It’s been reported by several newspapers over the last few days that the Loch Ness Monster – nicknamed Nessie – has registered her vote on the issue of Scottish independence and upped sticks and moved to England, making a new home for herself at Lake Windermere in the Lake District.

A new hoax? © Autographer/Rex Features

A new hoax? © Autographer/Rex Features

The image was allegedly taken on an Autographer camera that was set up to automatically take photos of the lake throughout the day by a photographer called Ellie Williams. She reported to the Daily Star that it was only when she returned to the camera and downloaded the images that she discovered an image of a dinosaur-like creature bearing a strong resemblance to Nessie.

I have no doubt it’ll turn out to be a humorous hoax, but cooked up by whom?

Let’s look at the suspects…

Perhaps it’s a conspiracy between the newspapers to give a humorous boost to the ‘no’ vote. Strangely, the Metro reported that the photographer asked to remain anonymous, and refers to the photographer as a ‘he’, even though Ellie Williams is mentioned in a number of other articles. When I visited the website of the copyright owner, Rex Features, it’s also mentioned on there that the photographer is a ‘he’ and wants to remain anonymous!

A product of Photoshop? Well, the photographers are claiming to have nothing to do with it. A man called James Ebdon, who works for Autographer and received the images from Ms Williams, has said, “Who knows what it is? Maybe some kids messing about – whatever it is we will leave it to the experts.”

So if it’s not computer trickery, could it be a model placed there by someone?

It’s not the first time a famous image of the Loch Ness Monster has been revealed to be a model. In 2012, a photo claimed by skipper George Edwards to be the most convincing photo of Nessie yet admitted a year later that it was a fake. He said the image was of a fibreglass hump used previously in a National Geographic documentary that Edwards had taken part in. He was proud to follow in the tradition of another similar hoax, the ‘Surgeon’s Photograph’ in 1934, revealed years later to be a model head and neck affixed to a toy submarine (although there are some who actually doubt the hoax story, too).

The 'Surgeon's Photograph' - the most famous of the Nessie hoaxes

The ‘Surgeon’s Photograph’ – the most famous of the Nessie hoaxes

My prediction is that it’s only a matter of time before someone confesses… After all, a second sighting of the monster was reported literally a couple of days later in the Mirror, this time back in Loch Ness. Either Nessie has developed superb intelligence and bodily flexibility, or this is another a tongue-in-cheek blow to the ‘yes’ campaign…

Is Nessie trying to tell us something? © The Mirror

Is Nessie trying to tell us something? © The Mirror

“Many a man has been hanged on less evidence than there is for the Loch Ness Monster.” G.K. Chesterton

These pictures will no doubt turn out to be hoaxes, but the idea that Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands is inhabited by a mysterious aquatic creature can be traced back to the 1st century AD. A Highlands tribe called the Picts would carve images of animals into standing stones, and one of them was of a creature known as the ‘Pictish Beast’ – the only creature not identifiable as any known animal. Then, in the 6th century, Saint Columba was walking along the shore of Loch Ness and witnessed a man being attacked by a ‘water beast’.

But the legend really gathered momentum in the 20th century. This is when all the alleged photos and sightings began, sparked by an incident in 1933. A man named George Spicer and his wife were driving on a road next to Loch Ness and witnessed “a most extraordinary form of animal” crossing the road in front of their car. A creature with a large body and a neck as wide as the road.

Since then, sightings have been numerous, even though none of the evidence for the monster’s existence is conclusive – yet.

And of course, the monster that’s been seen so many times through the 20th century can’t be the same monster allegedly seen by Saint Columba 1,500 years ago? Or the creature known to the Picts 2,000 years ago?

Can it?

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