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Scotland is home to one of the world's most famous cryptids. Although the world may have first learned of the Loch Ness Monster (Nessie) in 1933, there were reports of a large aquatic monster in the Loch as far back as 565 A.D.

Loch Ness is the largest freshwater body of water in Scotland. It is more than twenty miles long, and up to a thousand feet in depth, although it is narrow; no more than a mile and a half at its widest point. Formed during the last Ice Age, about ten thousand years ago, its waters were originally salty sea waters, which turned fresh over time. It is believed that perhaps the animals that had washed in from the North Atlantic had adapted to the new environment.

Loch Ness is at the northern end of the Great Glen, a geologic fault that has bisected the Highlands for more than 300 million years. The body of water is also part of the Caledonian Canal, which is linked to Inverness to the north, and to Loch Oich to the south.

Significantly, Loch Oich is home to Wee Oichy, the local name for a similar creature said to occupy Loch Oich.

Despite early legends, sightings of Nessie began to be reported widely in 1933, when a couple reported seeing an enormous sea creature "rolling and plunging" in the waters of the loch. The resulting newspaper account referred to the creature as a "monster" and the Loch Ness Monster was born. Within the next few months, there were twenty more sightings, and reports were appearing in most of the Scottish newspapers. After the newspaper articles began coming out, others came forward to report sightings going back to the mid-1800s, which had not been previously reported.

That same year, passengers on board an airplane flying over the loch reported a shape resembling a very large alligator, about twenty-five feet long and four feet wide.

A possible reason for the flurry of sightings beginning in 1933 is that a new road was under construction along the south shore of Loch Ness that year, which included blasting and the clearing of forests, which may have not only disturbed the creature but also provided an improved view of the loch.

Nessie is one of the most photographed cryptids, having been photographed and filmed several times since 1933. By the fall of 2003, there were at least seventy photographs, thirty-one motion pictures, and three videotapes that claimed to represent Nessie. Four people reported seeing the loch creature through live webcams at Loch Ness.

Unlike some other cryptids, most descriptions of Nessie are basically the same, although the size changes, which may indicate that there are more than one of the creatures, and perhaps a breeding population. In 1937, there were some sightings that claimed to have seen more than one of the creatures at the same time. They are collectively known as Nessie, or the Loch Ness Monster.

Separate from the sightings, there have been several photographs and sonar trackings of the Loch Ness Monster. As might be expected, some of them have been demonstrated to have been hoaxed, but others could not be so easily dismissed.

Roy P. Mackal, a University of Chicago biologist known for his interest in cryptozoology, wrote, in a book published in 1976, that there had been more than ten thousand reported sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, but that only about a third of those were recorded.

David James, a British Conservative Party politician, author, and adventurer, who founded the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau, claimed that there had been a total of three thousand recorded sightings as of 1981.

In the 1970s, some underwater photos which, although they were not perfectly clear, one showed the upper torso, neck, and head of a living creature, and a horselike face.

Nessie also seems to have several relatives in other lochs and lakes in England, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and North America.

Whether these are large beasts that have been uncatalogued by science, living creatures believed to be extinct, misidentifications of known animals or objects, or hoaxes, topics related to the Loch Ness Monster are appropriate for this portion of our guide.



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