by Mark Chorvinsky


On July 22, 1933, Mr. and Mrs. George Spicer of London were driving along the Loch Ness Lakeshore Road returning from a holiday in northern Scotland when their car nearly struck a huge, black long-necked creature. The "prehistoric animal," as Mr. Spicer described it, shambled across the road, slithered through the underbrush, and splashed into the murky Loch. Had the Spicers experienced a rare land encounter with the Loch Ness Monster?

To date there have been over 3000 recorded sightings of the celebrity monster, according to cryptozoologist Roy P. Mackal, author of The Monsters of Loch Ness. This figure may be on the high side, but whatever the figure is, Nessie is certainly one of the most-sighted monsters in the world.

British newspapers reported that on June 17, 1993 a young mother, Edna MacInnes, and her boyfriend David Mackay, both of Inverness, Scotland, claimed to have watched the Loch Ness monster for 10 minutes. MacInnes, age 25, told BBC Radio 4's Today program that the 40 foot monster swam around, waving its long giraffe-like neck and then vanished into the murky waters of the loch in what was the first major sighting of the year.

"It was a very light colored brown. You could see it very clearly," Miss MacInnes recalled. The creature was estimated to be a mile away, but appeared huge. Edna MacInnes reportedly ran along the shore in an attempt to keep up with Nessie.

"I was scared when the wash from its wake lapped on the shore, but I just kept running behind it. By the time it plunged below the surface I was running as fast as I could go," Miss MacInnes exclaimed. She and her boyfriend ran to get a camera and binoculars from a relative's house nearby and returned to the Loch. Shortly thereafter they had another sighting. This time the creature was only 20 feet from the shore, and David attempted to photograph Nessie. Unfortunately, the resulting photos showed a wake but no monster.

Later the same evening, James MacIntosh of Inverness was returning from a fishing trip with his son, also named James. Young James first sighted the unidentified object, telling his father, "Dad, that's not a boat."

"I was concentrating on my driving but I looked over the loch and I suddenly saw this brown thing with a neck like a giraffe break the surface. It was an eerie experience. It was swimming quite swiftly away from the shore at the time," recounted the elder MacIntosh.

Based on the strength of the sighting, bookmakers William Hill cut the odds against Nessie being found from 500-1 to 100-1. If Nessie was proven to exist, William Hill faced a payout of over £1 million (over US$1.5).

On November 12, 1933, a British Aluminum company worker named Hugh Gray watched "an object of considerable dimensions" rise out of the murky waters of the Loch and when it was two to three feet out of the water, Gray photographed the unknown thing. Gray's ambiguous photograph was published internationally. In the year following the release of the Gray photograph, there were over fifty sightings of Nessie.

While the world first learned of a Loch Ness Monster in May, 1933, there had been numerous earlier sightings of a large unidentified creature in the Loch, dating back to St. Columba's oft-mentioned encounter with an unknown creature in the River Ness in 565 A.D.

Generally cited as the first Nessie encounter, the case was studied by Charles Thomas, Director of the Institute of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter, England, who published his findings in the Journal of the International Society of Cryptozoology. Thomas concluded that the significance of the supposed encounter should be discounted as misleading since a critical examination of the original text (reported from oral tradition 110 years after the event) reveals that St. Columba probably encountered a large, stray marine mammal in the River Ness, rather than a monster in the Loch.Thomas's findings are based on sound scholarship and reasoning, and would lead the unbiased researcher to conclude that the first non-retrospective sightings of the Loch Ness Monster actually occurred in the 1930s.

NESSIE home |  NEXT (What is Nessie?)

strangemag HOME