The Loch Ness Monster returns

A quiz question among friends on a rainy winter night by a fireplace: who is the most famous Scotsman of all time? Homeland heroes William Wallace and Robert the Bruce? Inventors like Alexander Bell (telephone), Alexander Fleming (penicillin) or James Watt (steam engine)? Mary Stuart, beheaded by her cousin her Elizabeth? The poet Robert Burns? The writers Walter Scott (“Treasure Island) and Conan Doyle (“The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”)? Designer Charles Rennie MacKintosh? The tennis player Andy Murray? The actor Sean Connery? According to Adam Suimpson, a columnist for the Scottish Herald , the answer is neither of them, but the Loch Ness monster.

Nessie , as she is affectionately known, is undoubtedly the one who contributes the most of all of them (many long dead) to the troubled economy of Scotland, an estimated fifty million euros a year, thanks to tourists from all over the world. that attracts the country. Perhaps for this reason, if one is of a slightly skeptical nature (as is the case), the launch now of the largest-scale search for the «monster» in fifty years, with state-of-the-art technologies, drones with infrared cameras and a hydrophone to detect sounds in the deepest waters of the mysterious lake.

The operation is a joint project of the Loch Ness Visitor Center in Drumnadrochit and a private research group called Loch Ness Exploration , who have brought together scientists from around the world and called for volunteers to tour the waters of the lake in a bathyscaphe (a much less risky adventure than the search for the Titanic ), or (less dangerous still) they will observe with binoculars, from strategically located promontories, any possible appearance of Nessie. The supposed monster will probably not make an appearance, but more tourists will come and leave more money (the lack of it is one of the main obstacles to Scottish independence). “We want to inspire a new generation of enthusiasts and give them the opportunity to personally participate in solving a mystery that fascinates people on five continents,” the pamphlet says.

The first references to a kind of prehistoric animal in the area date back to the sixth century, when the Irish monk Saint Columba explained having found a «great creature» in the River Ness, which flows into the lake of the same name. Already in the modern era, it was in 1933, ninety years ago, when Aldie Mackay, manager of a hotel in the Highlands, claimed to have seen «a kind of whale that gave leaps, something black and wet from whose back water came out.» The Inverness Courier newspaper , one Evan Barron, saw a mine in the story and its editor at the time was the first to refer to a «monster».

Since then, more than a thousand witnesses claim to have seen it. But is it the result of feverish imaginations or does it have some basis in reality? Scientists are divided, but the most popular theory is that of a giant eel, although none have ever been caught, and those that inhabit European lakes are small. However, DNA samples (no sign of large animals or prehistoric reptiles) suggest that it is the most dominant species in the loch , and Professor Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago (New Zealand) thinks it possible that some with ferocious appetites and genes Exceptional fish have grown enormously, as do some carp.

In any case, Nessie has a potential rival yet to be named in London, since a couple of weeks ago a guy who is dedicated to looking for «treasures» in the mud on the banks of the River Thames, in London, assured on social networks having found “a giant anaconda-like creature”, with photos of what looks like a large snake with a red eye. Some have joked and suggested that it is a rock with a beer cap on top, others that a wooden post with something inserted into it that has surfaced at low tide… Although the favorite theory is that it It is about a boa constrictor (a species native to the South American jungle), common as a domestic animal, which would have escaped.

Competition for Nessie . And a reason why the English can claim that their monsters are at least as important and mysterious as the Scots…