Loch Ness monster could really be lost Baltic sturgeon Associated Press, 1/2/94 LONDON-For
Loch Ness monster could really be lost Baltic sturgeon
Associated Press, 1/2/94
LONDON--Forget the leftover dinosaur theory. The legendary Loch Ness
monster may be nothing more than a lovelorn Baltic sturgeon who blundered into
the Scottish lake in search of a mate.
That's the conclusion of "Nessie" hunger Adrian Shine and a new study that
says the lake doesn't hold enough fish to keep a full-fledged monster alive.
A comprehensive review of the ecology of Loch Ness, soon to be published in
the scientific journal The Scottish Naturalist, discounts the possibility that
Nessie is a reptile of Jurassic Park proportions.
The last plesiosaur, or water dinosaurs, were fossilized 65 million years
ago when Loch Ness was still a giant ice cube. Scientists also say the monster
could not be an amphibian or a mammal.
About the only possibility that leaves is a large fish--the original theory
when Nessie was first sighted in 1868.
"This is my favorite of the current theories," said Shine, head of the Loch
Ness Project at Drumnadrochit on the shores of the murky lake in the Scottish
Thirteen research papers to be published in The Scottish Naturalist
conclude the total fish population of Loch Ness is only about 20 or 30 tons,
making it quite barren.
Following the rule of thumb that a predator can weigh no more than about 10
percent of the available food, that would mean the monster could weigh up to 3
tons, or 6,000 pounds.
But scientists believe that there would have to be about 10 monsters to for
a "viable population" -- a group large enough to continue reproducing through
the generations. So, they assume, each monster would weigh no more than about
600 pounds -- the size of a large sturgeon.
Sturgeons have long snouts that could be mistaken for Nessie's neck and
have a prominent dorsal fin. They live in cold northern waters such as the
Baltic Sea and occasionally venture into British seas. Sturgeons move from
saltwater to fresh water to mate and spawn.
"It isn't impossible to imagine one of them blundering up the River Ness in
search of a mate and failing to find one," Shine told The Times of London.
"This is the sort of thing that could have started the tradition. But it
would be rather nice to think I am wrong."
Shine believes that most of the 4,000 reported sightings of the humped Loch
Ness Monster are actually the wake of boats.
However, there have been several grainy photographs produced over the years
purporting to show a long-necked or serpent-like creature, or indistinguishable
shadows and bumps that could be almost anything.
The 44-year-old Shine has been Nessie-hunting for 20 years. He led a $1.6
million expedition to try to find her in 1987, using sophisticated equipment
mounted on a fleet of boats. But the expedition produced only three tiny
inconclusive sonar bleeps.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank