Sunday 19 April 2009

75 year anniversary of Loch Ness Photo

In April 19, 1934: Colonel Robert Wilson, a surgeon, was driving along the north shore of Loch Ness early in the morning when he noticed something large moving in the water, so he stopped and took a picture of it. For sixty years this picture was regarded as one of the best pieces of evidence of Nessie’s existence
It is 75 years since the so called "surgeons' photo" appeared in the press so a repeat of the details of the background to the story of it being a hoax are below.

. Few believed that such a respected doctor could be party to a deception.But in 1994, 60 years after the photo was first published, newspapers around the world reported the claim that the "surgeon's photo" was a fake, part of an elaborate plot to dupe the Daily Mail. The man who broke the story was Alastair Boyd, , a friend of Boyd's named David Martin discovered an old newspaper clipping in which Ian Wetherell (the son of Marmaduke Wetherell of hippo foot fame) claimed the surgeon's photo was a hoax. The article had attracted little attention when it was published in 1975, but two details caught Boyd's eye.The First,was that Wetherell said the plot had involved a man named Maurice Chambers the man that Dr. Wilson said he had driven up from London to visit in 1934. Secondly, Wetherell mentioned that the surgeon's photograph included the scenery of Loch Ness in the background.The now familiar surgeon’s photo of Nessie photo includes only the protruding neck and the water around it. Boyd said that the original photo had included a bit of the far shoreline in the background, because he had discovered the uncropped version in the late '80s. But that full photo had been published only once, in 1934. So how could Wetherell have known this detail? "Either he had a very long memory, or he took the picture," Boyd says.
Ian Wetherell had died by the time Boyd and Martin read the article, but they were able to track down his step-brother, Christian Spurling, in the south of England. Spurling, 93 and very frail told them what he said was the truth.. Unhappy with the way he was treated after the hippo foot scam. Duke Wetherell had set out to get his revenge, enlisting his son and step-son in the plot. Spurling allegedly built a model monster by grafting a head and neck onto the conning tower of a toy submarine. Then Wetherell and his son Ian staged the photograph, taking care to include the actual Loch Ness scenery in the background. Finally, to conceal his own role in events , Wetherell persuaded Dr. Wilson, through their common friend Chambers, to have the photo developed and sent to the Daily Mail as his own.

Not everyone accepts this story. American journalist Richard Smith, for example, notes that toy experts question whether the toy submarines of the 1930s could have performed as described, and he wonders why Boyd waited until after Spurling's death to reveal his confession. Most people now believe the surgeon's photo was yet another Loch Ness hoax.
One of the great ironies of the sturgeon’s photo story is that the man who poured doubts on the piece of evidence remains a firm believer in Nessie. "I am so convinced of the reality of these creatures that I would actually stake my life on their existence," he has said in an interview with NOVA "I trust my eyesight and I know that the thing I saw was not a log or an otter or a wave, or anything like that. It was a large animal. It came heaving out of the water, something like a whale. I mean, the part that was actually on the surface when it stopped rolling through was at least 20 feet long. It was totally extraordinary. It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my life, and if I could afford to spend the rest of my life looking for another glimpse of it, I would."

I am not convinced about the story of the hoax as I am not sure that the model would have floated as described and what is the explanation for the rings around the model?

For some good information about Nessie and listings of sightings go

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