The Loch Ness Monster is one of the most enduring legends of Scotland, bringing thousands of visitors to the country each year. A strange fate may have befallen our favourite cryptid, however, as there have not been any sightings of her since 2012.
It is claimed that one of the first recorded sightings of "Nessie," as the monster is affectionately known, was made by St. Columba in A.D. 565 when the saint scared away a huge aquatic beast that was preparing to attack a man in the Ness River, which flows into the lake. This tale has been thought by many, however, to be an allegorical story depicting the power of God overcoming the evil of Satan.
More well-documented sightings still date back hundreds of years, according to a comprehensive list compiled by the President of the Official Loch Ness fan club, Gary Campbell of Inverness. The regularity of sightings has been steadily reducing in recent years, but this is the first time in 90 years that there have not been any sightings at all during the year.
"It's very upsetting news and we don't know where she's gone," said Mr. Campbell
The local paper, the Inverness Courier, apparently reported three sightings during 2013, but these were later discredited.
But what exactly is "Nessie?"
Skeptics would argue that all of the sightings are hoaxes or have a prosaic explanation, such as large fish or oddly-shaped waves, but there remain those who are convinced that they have spotted Nessie, who has been consistently seen for decades.
"So far 1,036 reported sightings have been recorded and there were some in 2012," said Mr. Campbell.
Whatever it was that witnesses have been spotting over the years, it is certainly intriguing that nothing has been seen for 18 months. If a monster does exist then there would have to be more than one of them, otherwise the species would be unable to procreate. It is possible that the species could have become extinct as, at just 20 miles long and a mile wide (32 by 1.6 kilometers), their habitat is very small and contained without the possibility for migration if food sources become unreliable.
Unknown Country spoke to Malcolm Robinson, founder of Strange Phenomena Investigations (SPI) and a researcher into the Loch Ness enigma:
" The Loch Ness enigma has been with us for hundreds of years and many sightings of what 'appear' to be strange creatures have been sighted in the Loch over centuries," he told Unknown Country. I am of the opinion that there are at least several large unidentified 'creatures' in the loch which are not monsters in the true sense of the word, but most probably could be a large fish, something akin to a large sturgeon fish which can grow upwards of 14 feet !"
Mr. Robinson, author of many books on unexplained phenomena including Paranormal Case Files of Great Britain (Volumes 1 and 2) and UFO Case Files of Scotland (Volume 1, is currently working on a new book entitled The Monsters of Loch Ness.
"Any sightings of the creatures in Loch Ness is (for me) an accidental breaking of the loch's surface as the creatures come close to the surface whilst feeding of the fish which tend to gather near the surface of the water," explained Mr. Robinson.
The current dearth of sightings must be a cause for concern for the Scottish Tourist Board, as Nessie is Scotland's biggest tourist attraction. Robinson remains confident that sightings will return once more when the tourist season picks up:
"At this time of the year, there are not many tourists around the loch and as such this 'might' explain why sightings are on the decline. It is my opinion that sightings will increase when the tourist season starts and as such the popularity of Scotland's biggest tourist attraction will continue to make headlines," he said.
His views are shared by Mr. Campbell, who is equally hopeful that Nessie will surface once more:
"I'm convinced that Nessie has just taken some time out and will be back with a vengeance this year," he said.