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A European eel with some fish in an aquarium; most European eels grow to 23 to 31 inches (60 to 80 centimeters).

Could Nessie the Loch Ness Monster be a giant, 15-foot Eel? (Probably not)

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The Loch Ness Monster is again in the news, as a Scotsman says his 2007 footage probably was not of the famed sea monster, but actually shows a 10-15 foot (3- 4.5 meter) giant eel. This too is unlikely. There is only one type of eel in Loch Ness, and it grows at the very most to 5 feet (1.5 meters). There have been reports of 7- to 9-foot (2.1-2.7 meter) eels taken in Loch Ness, but these dimensions seem to defy science.

Loch Ness is long at 22.5 miles (32 kilometers) and deep at 755 feet (230 meters), so many people who’ve claimed to have sighted the monster have said it has plenty of places to hide. Loch Ness contains more fresh water than all the lakes and in England and Wales combined.

A view from the shores of Loch Ness, looking south

A view from the shores of Loch Ness, looking south. (Public Domain)

The Scottish press is reporting that the mystery of the latest footage of Nessie, from 2007, has been solved. The Scotsman writes:

“The man who filmed some of the most famous footage of Nessie has admitted it could have been a giant eel. Gordon Holmes, who filmed jet-black shapes moving in Loch Ness from the roadside in 2007, agrees a U.S. computer expert who analyzed the footage has likely solved the mystery. Mr. Holmes, of Shipley, in West Yorkshire, now believes the creatures are eels between 10ft and 15ft long. The retired university technician has visited Loch Ness six times in the past. His two-minute video, shot from a layby on the A82, showed a long black shape moving just under the surface of the water. It made headlines around the world, but many expressed doubt.”

But this too has to be taken with a grain of salt. The largest eels are moray eels that grow to 10 to 12 feet (2 to 3 meters). And moray eels are not freshwater fish. They live in the ocean. There is a type of eel that grows in Loch Ness—the European eel or Anguilla anguilla that grows to, at the utmost, 5 feet or 1.5 meters. However, it is usually much shorter than that, about half the size.

Bill Appleton, owner of a software company in the United States, stabilized the footage of the “eel” and sent it to a paranormal website. Holmes says the stabilized video proves he saw a giant eel.

The Press and Journal reported Holmes as saying: “After several estimations, I believe the creatures were approximately 12ft [3.7 meters] long. Since eels do appear strange, ancient, scary-like beasties that may explain several of the Loch Ness sightings over the centuries.”

Some people truly believe a monster inhabits Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. Popular interest and belief in the animal's existence has varied since it was first reported in 1933 and made famous by a photograph supposedly taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson in 1934, depicted below.

Photo of the ‘Loch Ness monster’ taken by Robert Wilson.

Photo of the ‘Loch Ness monster’ taken by Robert Wilson. (Fortean Pictures Library)

Evidence of its existence is anecdotal, with minimal and much-disputed photographic material and sonar readings. The most common speculation among believers is that the creature represents a line of long-surviving plesiosaurs, a Mesozoic marine reptile.

However, the scientific community regards the Loch Ness Monster, affectionately known as ‘Nessie’, as a modern-day myth, and often explains sightings as misidentifications of more mundane objects, outright hoaxes, and wishful thinking.

‘Loch Ness Monster, Seasnake, Seamonster, Seeschlange, Meeresungeheuer.’ By Hugo Heikenwaelder.

‘Loch Ness Monster, Seasnake, Seamonster, Seeschlange, Meeresungeheuer.’ By Hugo Heikenwaelder. (CC BY SA 2.5)

Featured image: A European eel with some fish in an aquarium; most European eels grow to 23 to 31 inches (60 to 80 centimeters). (CC BY SA 3.0) Insert: A representation of Nessie at the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre in Drumnadrochit. (Public Domain)

By: Mark Miller



Photos posted on the internet today confirm Nessie is some sort of eel or ribbon fish. Good call.

Funny how things go around and come around. I read a wonderful book on this very subject in 1968 called "The Great Orm of Loch Ness" by Ted Holiday. He made a great case for Nessie being a giant worm or mollusk. The book is very much worth the read.

The eel theory is interesting; to me mostly because there seems to be a pattern in Scandinavia that several sea-near lakes have most of their seamonster activity during a short period in summer; much like eels and of course salmon. Some of the lakes are in areas with lots of caves, and these caves can be connected to the sea, so eels could wander between the sea and the lake as a part of their instinct..
I have been to the Storsjöen (Big Lake) in Sweden where there's been 350 observations of a sea monster since the 1700's. I talked to a fisherman who had seen 20-meter long creatures on his sonar, and one time (in 20 years as a fisherman) he saw a part of a creature, 50 cm in diameter, coming out of the water. Sounds which noone can explain have been recorded by hydrophone, sounding quite like a pig.
I would say that approximately 20 lakes in Norway and Sweden have recorded observations of sea monsters.

I generally think of the modern Loch Ness Monster as mythical. OTOH, an eel? I recall reading years ago that the account of a monster arising from the loch and slain referred to it as an "orm" and the were several other accounts of encounters with such orms: at the time of the paper I read it was suggested these were a fresh-water type of giant worms such as are occasionally spotted in oceans. Perhaps - but then the first was supposedly about St. George and his dragon, and said saint probably never got to the British Isles...

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Mark Miller has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and is a former newspaper and magazine writer and copy editor who's long been interested in anthropology, mythology and ancient history. His hobbies are writing and drawing.

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