Rogue Nessie by Kurt Burchfiel
While many of the arguments offered against the existence of a Loch Ness Monster can be rationally dismissed, questions regarding population size seem to cause believers some difficulty. Skeptics correctly note that for a herd of Nessies to have been continually resident in Loch Ness for the past ten thousand years there would have to a viably-sized, stable breeding population. Though opinions vary on just what constitutes a viable breeding population, a reasonable estimate could range somewhere between twenty and one hundred animals. While the loch is probably large enough to conceal a sizable population from human scrutiny and while its biomass (twenty-seven tons of fish by most recent estimate) could possibly support a modest number of large higher-level predators, the laws of genetics would inevitably conspire to present an insurmountable obstacle to the long-term survival of such a colony of animals.The real dilemma for a small colony of large unknown animals living in the loch concerns the problems associated with inbreeding. A herd of Nessies, cut off from the sea for ten thousand years and forced to inbreed would surely fall victim to either disease or to a catastrophic deterioration of the gene pool. There may, however, be a logical way to provide for the existence of at least one mystery animal in Loch Ness. One way may be to hypothesize that the creature in Loch Ness is a rogue. Consider the possibility that Nessie is representative of some as yet unidentified speciesof ocean-going animal. These animals are responsible for the numerous sightings of “long-necks” at sea and may be either a much-evolved prehistoric reptile (i.e. a plesiosaur) or perhaps some sort of large unknown mammal. An immature animal swimming, say in the
Adapting to a Fresh Water Environment. As the water in Loch Ness is fresh, validation of the rogue Nessie theory requires an explanation of how a marine creature used to living in salt water could quickly adapt to a fresh water environment. There are precedents for ocean-going animals successfully making the transition to a fresh water environment and vice versa. Bull sharks inhabit the fresh water of
Recorded sightings of unidentified animals in the River Ness serve to validate the notion that the river, when swollen by heavy rains, is indeed a viable route of entry into Loch Ness from the sea.In 565 AD (or 580 AD according to Dr. Karl P.N. Shuker) the Irish missionary Saint Columba encountered a beast in the River Ness that had already killed one man and was in the process of going after a second. Seizing upon the gravity of the situation Columba commanded, “Go thou no further nor touch that man. Go back at once!” With that, the creature reportedly sank out of sight only fifty feet from its intended victim. So here we find the first recorded sighting of the Loch Ness monster occurring not in the loch proper, but rather in the River Ness. In February 1932 Miss Kathleen MacDonald of
During April 1965 there was a period of heavy rain lasting several days. The loch rose and the River
When these reports are considered in relation to the veritable wealth of recorded long-neck sightings in the coastal waters of the
If these multiple sightings are in fact legitimate, they would in no way invalidate the rogue theory. Quite the contrary, it is easy to imagine that if one juvenile animal could make it into the loch from the open ocean and thrive then certainly others could as well. This simply makes for a collection of rogues and not a viable breeding population. For those who are strongly drawn to the image of a family group of Nessies, there may be consolation in speculating that if a male and female rogue of similar maturity were in the loch at the same time chances are probably good that they would find each other and find love. There is, however, a great deal of difference between a small family of animals successfully producing a generation or two of offspring and a large, resident, isolated breeding population thriving for thousands of years.
Of all the world’s alleged cryptids, the Loch Ness Monster claims the most impressive pedigree. This is due in part to the considerable amount of effort that has been expended searching for it and also to the relatively large number of recorded sightings. No other mystery animal can claim the same degree of sustained perseverance on the part of its hunters. These efforts have yielded a considerable volume of compelling evidence, yet frankly not enough to persuade mainstream scientists to risk their reputations by actively pursuing Nessie. Regrettably only the universities and government agencies that these scientists work for have the resources, both financial and technological, necessary to bring the Loch Ness Monster debate to resolution. Believers in Nessie do have some valid defenses against the lack of conclusive evidence. It is true that what photographic evidence there is has been obtained largely either by lucky, unsuspecting, and ill-equipped observers or by amateur researchers operating on minimal budgets. The few large-scale, high- profile expeditions that have been mounted seem to have been plagued by media pressure to quickly produce spectacular results. It is also true that, contrary to what many might believe, the surface of the loch is not under constant scrutiny by dozens of researchers armed with cameras. In the absence of a well-financed, well-coordinated, and sustained expedition it is surely no small wonder that any hard evidence has been obtained at all. Yet after recognizing these handicaps it is still reasonable to ask why after thousands of hours of surface and subsurface surveillance and hundreds of eyewitness sightings the most significant evidence that has been obtained of Nessie’s existence are some grainy and contentious photos and motion film footage. In all fairness, if somewhere between twenty and one hundred, thirty to forty foot predatory animals were living in Loch Ness they should be encountered more often. To suggest otherwise strains most people’s sense of credulity. In this the age of the camcorder, surely some lucky tourist should have by now obtained some photographic evidence that could stand up to mainstream scrutiny. The rogue theory provides an acceptable solution to this dilemma. While the loch may not have enough food for an entire herd of Nessies, it surely has enough for one or two animals. While it might be impossible for a large population of Nessies living in the loch to effectively conceal themselves from human scrutiny, one animal or perhaps a loosely associated collection of individuals could surely keep themselves fairly well hidden. While a herd of isolated animals could never hope to overcome the laws of genetics and survive an indefinite period of inbreeding, this would not be a concern for non-breeding rogue individuals who periodically find themselves trapped in the loch.
If Nessie is in fact a sea-going animal and representatives of her species are only periodic and unwary residents of Loch Ness, beyond helping to explain the difficulty involved in obtaining strong evidence of her existence this revelation could have major implications for the way researchers at the loch approach their work. On the down side, the prospects for finding and photographing a single animal hiding in the inky depths of the loch are certainly poor for the amateur monster hunter. On the up side, an amazing and unidentified marine creature may be effectively trapped in a closed and relatively small body of water. Perhaps others like it are in similar situations elsewhere around the world. While the chances of finding and studying these animals in the open ocean may be low, they are considerably better in a place like Loch Ness, particularly if the appropriate technology is brought to bear. The means to solve the Loch Ness mystery certainly exist. The Royal Navy could probably locate Nessie in a weekend. An M.I.T. expedition could then figure out a way to capture her, on film or in person, within a week or two. The difficulty lies in convincing organizations like these to involve themselves in the search. The reluctance of mainstream science to engage in so-called fringe research like monster hunting is perhaps Nessie’s best defense against human detection. In the final analysis perhaps the rogue Nessie theory’s message to amateur cryptozoologists is simply to keep doing what they have been doing for the past seventy years; keep watching the water with camera at the ready. In the absence of Nessie coming ashore and introducing herself to a vacationing marine biologist, the only way the scientific mainstream is ever going to play a role in identifying the Loch Ness Monster is if they are confronted with a compelling high-quality surface photograph or video.
1). Gould, Rupert, The Loch Ness Monster and Others (New York: University Books, 1969), p.10.
2). Ibid., p. 10.
4). Ibid., p.171.
5). Witchell, Nicholas, The Loch
(I am absolutely exhausted today after the hospital yesterday so this long article should keep you all reading until I am recovered tomorrow and can get back to writing something. have a great Saturday everyone ).