As I was going to do a segment on sea/lake monsters in this weeks ATS Euro (unfortunately cancelled – get better soon Nef & Silk (and hopefully
they’ll fix your broadband!)) I thought, why not start a thread instead. More people can be involved, I can put my opinions across clearer, and
I’m not tired yet. And I have something much better to talk about next week.
So, starting with thein monsters of old; bringing down ships and dragging people off into lakes to eat them. There’s a lot of folklore in this,
it’s pretty deep (no pun intended) and it’s always something I’ve been interested in, whether from my dinosaur fascination (currently wearing a
dino t shirt. Get me) or from the process of debunking, I don’t know. I do like all of the different things they’re put down to. Some are truly
Folklore, I think, is an important, engrained part of every culture. We all know of stories from times passed that have survived to today, even though
they aren’t exactly scientifically matched with our generation. In folklore, these ‘creatures’ and sightings have some similarities, some
differences. For instance an ‘Eachy’ (reported in Lake Windermere in 1873 and Bassenthwaite in 1973) is typically a name for a creature which is
humanoid; whereas we now class these ‘monsters’ as the more commonly thought of three humped, serpent like creature. So where did the opinions
change, and why did they change?
Back in the day, such cryptids could be put down to wizards and enchantments or magic (and have been), they have been said to ‘haunt’ the lakes as
ghosts, and they have been known as kelpies (for those who don’t know, a kelpie is a lake/loch monster which pretends to be a horse when leaving the
water to trick tired travellers on to its back, which it then drags into the lake and eats – leaving only the liver). People back then won’t have
known about dinosaurs, but may have found skeletons; and were definitely very superstitious – so if they see something they can’t explain for any
one of many reasons, it would be put down to a monster. A lot of folklore and tales such as these could also be put down to keeping children away from
water-sides to prevent drowning.
In the UK itself there is a distinction between the types of creature sighted or reported, especially in medieval times. In Wales (land of the dragon)
the creatures are in fact more dragon-like, whereas in England and Scotland (there are a lot in Scotland) they seem to be more serpent-like, what
would be typically thought of.
I’ll mention a few examples. Nessie is an obvious contender and can’t possibly be missed out of this subject. The first recorded sightings were in
565AD, and right up to the present day, really. Nessie has been seen walking across roads with animals in ‘her’ mouth, in the water, with 3 humps
and a swan like neck a huge amount of times, and is probably the most famous of all, if not of all cryptids. The problem with Nessie, is that she is
too famous. Sightings generate tourism, tourism keeps people in jobs, photos get media attention… you see where I’m going. People jump on the
bandwagon, and it’s always difficult to take others word as gospel. Especially on topics like this. Plus in 2003 the BBC did a sonar search and
found nothing; which doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t anything there, it just shows that we really have not much either way – but less on
the positive side.
Lake Windermere has its own Bownessie, which is a mini-Nessie, who attracted some attention in 2006 when it created some big ripples and scared a man
with a 3 foot wave. It was apparently humpbacked and objects were clearly visible under the water, and yet there have been inconclusive searches for
Morag, in Loch Morar gave two fishermen a bit of a scare in 1969 by ramming their boat, causing them to shoot it. They claimed it was brown, with 3
humps and was around 25-30 ft long, with a serpent like head. Morar isn’t surrounded by a road, and is pretty hard to get to, so who knows? Maybe
there would be more sightings if it was as accessible as Loch Ness.
Iceland has a ‘worm’ in Lagarflját that is has had consistant sightings from 1345. It is said to be 300ft long, and sometimes coils up on land as
well as living in the water. Legend dictates that it is seen rarely, and so when it is it bodes great news. I’m not sure when it was last seen, but
that could be telling us something, eh?
Ireland has a creature called Muckie in the Lakes of Killarney; which, I’m not going to go into great detail about. Mainly because there is no basis
in folklore, and it has been used in an attempt to generate tourism to the area (unsuccessfully) after a solid form showed up on some sonar in 2003
while people were researching fish. It might just be me, but I think that tells you something.
Norway, Sweden and Russia also have some of their own stories; the one from Russia is fantastic – it has scared armies to death, eaten soldiers and
their horses, capsized boats and fishermen; being blamed for boat and people disappearances and my favourite, eaten a WWII German plane. Brosnya,
(Броснйа – I am so sorry if that’s wrong) I salute you.
Okay, so lets get down to the nitty gritty here. We could say that the historical evidence and frequency of these sightings from so many different
places is proof enough.
That it could easily be a previously thought of extinct creature like a plesiosaur; although that comes with its own problems, like it needing to
surface for air, it being cold blooded in temperatures >5*C, what it eats being so big and the physiological incapacity for it to raise its neck as
the sightings suggest. People have hit back at that though, calling convergent evolution (where separate lineages show the same biological trait) by a
trapped creature, or even giant newts (giant is the right word) or invertebrates.
Or we could say that yes, it does grab our interest, but there could be (and are) many other explanations.
I mean, what’ve we got here? Animals in the water – otter, big fish, seals swimming together, shoals (on sonar), deer; we can say boats causing
waves, reflections causing mirages, the light shining in the wrong way into your eyes – all of these could be a cause, and we haven’t even got on
to the underwater volcanoes and gas emissions.
And these are all sort of natural, human error explanations, discounting the blatant hoaxes and viral advertising which have rocked this subject in
the past; as well as the sightings usually coming in clusters, which fade out and rise up over time (do I hear a bandwagon? I suppose it’s better
than a bus…). People have even claimed that it is the same metaphysical occurrence that causes us to see ghosts and black dogs.
And what about the ‘Bloop’ and ‘Slow Down’ noises? (If you haven’t heard these, go to wikipedia and have a listen. They were recorded in the
ocean (a ocean, not sure which) by the NOAA in the late 90’s and still haven’t been fully explained to this day. I’m probably going off topic
slightly though, because they’re not exactly considered to belong to anything – never mind sea monsters or whatever!)
Either way, the sightings have neither been confirmed or denied, completely proven or debunked; and so, the interest and the publicity for these sort
of tales continues on to capture our attention. And I think, until there is a solid answer, the sightings and the interested parties (such as me) will
continue to dig and hope that one day we’ll know.
I doubt it though.
If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for taking the time to read this through. I didn’t want my work to go to waste, but I’m pretty sure the debate
would be livelier, and probably more eloquently put on the Euro show.
I haven’t really said much to put an idea in anyone’s head, but it’s a collection and a starting point in case anyone interested wants to
research it more.
(P.S. - Sorry about any typos/grammar problems etc. I'm now tired and just want this written up and away with. They won't be changed, unfortunately.
I hate them as much as you do, trust me. It's this laptop!)