The persistence of the sightings of Loch Ness Monster may have an explanation, or so says a “Nessie” hunter 24 years on the job. Steve Feltham, a man who also holds the Guinness Book of World Records record for the longest continuous monster vigil, says that he has an idea what could be responsible for the sightings, given that the Loch Ness Monster might not be an actual monster, and its an obvious go-to explanation. He says Nessie could be a fish, albeit a rather large one.
Agence France Presse (AFP) reported July 17 that Steve Feltham, 52, now thinks, after spending years and years searching the waters of the great Scottish loch, that the Loch Ness Monster could very well be a giant catfish. He told the press agency that he wasn’t ready to give up looking for the legendary beast but he thinks it is the most likely explanation for many of the sightings.
“The current frontrunner is the Wels catfish. It’s the most likely explanation,” Feltham told AFP. “I’m not saying it’s the final explanation. It ticks most of the boxes with sightings — but it doesn’t tick them all.”
The Wels catfish, as Feltham noted, can become one large fish and can grow up to three meters in length, according to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and amass a size of 800 pounds (but rarely reach half the size). Although it is prevalent throughout many areas around the world, including the United States and parts of Europe, the Wels catfish is not native to, nor, as far as is known, has it been introduced into the rivers and lakes of the United Kingdom, much less the lochs of Scotland. Steve Feltham says he has developed the theory that the giant catfish was introduced by Victorians so they could catch them for sport.
The monster hunter elaborated: “Given the number of hunting estates that there are around here, it’s plausible they (the Victorians) may have put a few in, giving themselves some good sport of catching one of the biggest freshwater fish in the world. If they did that here in the (late) Victorian era, they would have reached maturity in the 1930s…”
The first modern sighting of the Loch Ness Monster occurred in 1933 when a couple claimed to have seen a “monster” in the water. The sighting was followed by the 1934 “Surgeon’s photo,” the famous “monster” photo, that became an international sensation. Although later proven to be a hoax, the image sparked the imagination of would-be hunters and discoverers of a possible prehistoric aquatic beast in the loch’s depths. But the legend of a mysterious aquatic beast living in Loch Ness has been around for at least 1,500 years, a 1998 PBS “NOVA” documentary revealed.
Explaining the existence of the Loch Ness Monster and its sightings has come down to imaginative wishful thinking, delusional thinking, and/or purposeful hoaxes perpetrated on the public for various reasons. No credible verifiable evidence has surfaced to suggest that an actual creature exists, however.
As for Feltham, media reports recently suggested he was packing it in, leaving his post beside the famous Loch. He noted that where there was at one time, back when he started his search, about a dozen sightings per year, now there might be one. He says better technology, especially photographic, most likely accounts for the drop-off. But the driven Nessie hunters, like himself, still look for the creature or a living analog.
“I hope it turns out to be something far more exciting than a catfish. It’s a mundane creature, even though it’s massive.” He added, “I’m certainly not going to give up searching.”
As for the time spent searching? Feltham told Reuters, “The monster mystery will last for ever and will continue to attract people here, monster or not. I certainly don’t regret the last 24 years.”