Loch Ness: Mystery (Un)Solved?

The Loch Ness Monster, affectionately known as Nessie, has been swimming around the minds of cryptid lovers for generations. First sightings vary, some say it goes back all the way to 565 where it appeared in the Life of St. Columba. But, Nessie shot to notoriety in the 1930s thanks to George Spicer and his wife’s sightings. And, of course, there is the now known-hoax of the 1934 infamous image of our dear Nessie. But, recently, scientists have come up with some eel-y interesting information.

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In case you didn’t catch it, me writing eel-y wasn’t some strange typo I forgot to remove. Eels are at the heart of the latest exploration into what Nessie is, was, or could have been. A group of scientists from the University of Otago in New Zealand just released some of their very first findings on a study of Loch Ness.

The study began in June 2018 and wasn’t originally directed at Nessie alone, but rather the lake’s biodiversity at large. They took over 250 samples from various locations around the loch at various depths. The loch has a wonderful amount of diversity and roughly 3,000 distinct species. However, unlike Nessie, most of these inhabitants of the loch are so small you’d hardly notice them. 

Dr. Neil Gemmell, a geneticist on the study, broke some tough to hear news..."Is there a plesiosaur in Loch Ness? No.There is absolutely no evidence of any reptilian sequences in our samples.” Many of the most persistent Nessie rumors is that she is a holdover from the dinosaur days, whereas others say it was a giant reptile that thrived in the loch as there weren’t any other major predators. However, Dr. Gemmell drives the knife in harder and says, "So I think we can be fairly sure that there is probably not a giant scaly reptile swimming around in Loch Ness."

But does this signal the nail in the coffin when it comes to Nessie?

Not totally, some say.

For example, there is a major theory that Nessie might be some kind of aquatic being gone horrendously big, such as a catfish. Dr. Gemmell notes that giant catfish in Loch Ness are not out of the question and that theory remains plausible.

But, a new theory has risen from the ashes of the plesiosaur theory...an eel. Of the 250+ samples the team took, almost every single sample had one thing in common: evidence of eels.  Dr. Gemmell notes that the team did find a significant amount of eel DNA, "We don't know if the eel DNA we are detecting is gigantic, from a gigantic eel, or just many small eels. These normally grow to about four to six feet in length."

Our dear scientist skeptic, Dr. Gemmell, ends his interview with Live Science on a high note, honoring the memory of Nessie: "Right from the get-go, I said I don't believe in the monster — and that is still my position. But wouldn't it be amazing if I was wrong?"

What do you think? Does the lack of any large reptiles and/or evidence of reptilian mark the end of the search for Nessie? Or, do you think there still is something to all those sightings? 

The header image is The Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle by Guillaume Piolle liscensed under Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0).