Page 12 - The 'X' Chronicles Newspaper March/April 2018 Edition
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12              Loch Ness Monster A Tourist Conspiracy

             Loch Ness Monster: Is

                Nessie just a tourist


               By Emma Ailes BBC Scotland

          It is 80 years since hotel manageress Mrs Aldie
          Mackay first reported seeing a "whale-like fish"
          in the waters of Loch Ness.
                 Now an academic at St  Andrew's
          University is trawling through 1,000 eye-
          witness accounts since to see what they can tell
                 He wryly notes more than a few hotel
          proprietors among typical spotters. So is
          "Nessie" just a conspiracy to boost tourism?
                 It was 14 April 1933 and Mrs Mackay,
          manageress of the Drumnadrochit Hotel, was             According to  Visit Scotland, Nessie eye-witness accounts may tell us more about
          driving with her husband along the road to tourism brings in more than £1m to the area per ourselves than whether or not the Loch Ness
          Inverness.                                     year.                                           monster exists. He is due to publish the results
                 As they drove, she glanced out across the       So was Mrs Mackay motivated by of his study later this year.
          still calm waters of Loch Ness towards Aldourie cynical thoughts of her bank balance?                 "I am carrying out a statistical analysis
          Castle. There, in the water, she saw something.        Mr Shine believes not.                  of Loch Ness monster accounts since 1933,
                 In a rare interview years later, she            "She was far from a self-publicist. It was specifically looking for clusters in terms of what
          described the moment to marine biologist and her husband who told the water bailiff, and she is reported," he says.
          founder of The Loch Ness Project, Adrian Shine. stayed anonymous in the newspaper report.             "In some cases there are multiple
                 "She said it was black, wet, with the           "She didn't say anything for two reasons. witnesses, or witnesses giving multiple accounts
          water rolling off it," he says.                Firstly, because she thought she would be seen of the same event, which allow us to test
                 "It went in a circle, round and down. She as self-advertising.                          eyewitness consistency.
          yelled at her husband "Stop! The beast!"               "But also because they used to say for         "These cases are very interesting
                 It is an interesting remark, Mr Shine people who had seen something in the loch "take because they allow us to consider whether
          says.                                          more water with it"… suggesting they were certain witnesses have a tendency to see Nessie
                 Mrs Mackay's sighting was reported in   drunks."                                        more than might be expected by chance alone."
          the Inverness Courier on 2 May 1933 by Alex            But there are plenty of people who have        He could have chosen another
          Campbell, the water bailiff for Loch Ness and a made a living from Nessie, including Mr Shine unexplained phenomenon to analyse - ghost
          part-time journalist.                          himself, who now runs the Loch Ness Centre sightings or Big Foot, for example - but as a
                 It is widely regarded as the first "modern and Exhibition out of Mrs Mackay's old hotel.  former aquatic biologist, Nessie appealed to
          sighting" of a monster in the loch.                                                            him.
                 "But the fact that she said "the beast"... Fame and fortune                                    On Sunday, a boat will set sail onto the
          It's as though she knew there was something                                                    still calm waters of Loch Ness.
          strange in the loch," Mr Shine says.           "I don't conceal that I first came seeking fame        Onboard will be Dr Paxton, Mr Shine,
                                                         and fortune, that there was a wildlife mystery  and a number of other 'monster hunters', Loch
          Local legend                                   and I was the one to solve it," he says.        Ness experts, and Visit Scotland representatives.
                                                                 "I have become more sceptical over the         They may not agree when it comes to
          There was already one account of a monster in years, but oddly enough I have made a living out  Nessie, but there on the loch they will raise a
          the area dating back to the Middle Ages.       of being a fairly sceptical investigator.       glass of whisky to Mrs Mackay and 80 years of
                 According to Adamnan's account of the           "But I do believe the vast majority of  the legend of Loch Ness. []
          life of Saint Columba, believed to have been witnesses are sincere…and not drunk," he adds.
          written in the 7th century, the Irish monk saw a       What does Dr Paxton - who is using the
          "water beast" in the River Ness.               Loch Ness phenomenon to analyse how science
                 But Mrs Mackay's sighting opened the handles anecdotal and low frequency data -
          floodgates.                                    think?
                 Police inspectors, bank managers,               He has trawled through old newspaper
          students, town clerks, lorry drivers, clergymen, clippings, reports, books and records from the
          forestry workers, office workers, water bailiffs Loch Ness Investigation Bureau of the 1960s
          and fishermen were all among the people who and 1970s, for all recorded sightings that peaked
          claimed to have seen the monster.              especially after the infamous 'surgeon's
                 Tourists and 'Nessie hunters' flocked to photograph' of 1934.
          the area.  There were traffic jams around the          Highly respected British surgeon,
          loch.                                          Colonel Robert  Wilson, claimed he took his
                 There were even a few celebrity spotters photograph on 19  April 1934, while driving
          such as authors Gavin Maxwell and Sir along the northern shore of Loch Ness. It was
          Compton Mackenzie.                             later revealed to be a toy submarine outfitted
                 Dr Charles Paxton, a research fellow and with a sea-serpent head.
          statistical ecologist at St Andrew's University,       "I suppose it is possible that people have
          has so far sifted through 800 of the 1,000 an agenda," Dr Paxton says.
          recorded sightings.                                    "But I stress that I believe the vast
                 And, he adds, a sizeable number came majority of people are reporting the truth. They
          from cafe and hotel proprietors, including Mrs believe they have seen something strange.
          Mackay herself.                                        "Now there might be a lot of people who
                 Certainly there was much to be gained are mistaken, but I think they are sincere."
          from the legend.                                       In fact, Dr Paxton says, analysing the
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