"Nessie": The Loch Ness Monster

Tall tales involving some kind of beast inhabiting the dark waters of Loch Ness go all the way back to St. Columba in the 7th century AD—but, for the most part, the legend of "Nessie" is a disappointingly modern one. In 1933 two vacationing Londoners gave an intriguing account to a newspaper, describing a large, unidentifiable creature that slithered in front of their car before plunging into the loch. Later that year a local man, Hugh Gray, took the first purported photograph of the monster—and Nessie fever was born. The pictures kept coming—none of them too clear, of course—and before long the resident monster turned into a boon for the local tourism industry. Fortunately for them the age of camera phones has not dented Nessie's popularity; you don't have to search far on the Internet to find all sorts of photos of something—anything—that must surely be the monster, if you only squint a little. But does anybody seriously believe in it? Well ... no. But like all good legends, there is just enough doubt to keep the campfire tales alive. In 2006 declassified documents even revealed that, in the 1980s, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher considered plans to declare the Loch Ness monster a protected species, as a safeguard against the hordes of bounty hunters she feared would descend should it ever be proven to exist.

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