OTD 1933: First modern day sighting of Loch Ness monster

It was 85 years ago today that the Loch Ness monster morphed from a Highland myth into a mystery that people have tried to solve ever since.

A sighting a creature on Loch Ness that turned the water into a "boiling mass of foam" triggered the Nessie hunting craze 85 years ago today. PIC: Jane Barlow/TSPL.

A well-known businessman and his university-educated wife inadvertently sparked the Nessie hunting craze when their reports of an alleged sighting of the creature appeared in the Inverness Courier on May, 2 1933.

Their account is regarded as the first modern-day accounts of the legendary beast.

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The newspaper reported how for generations the loch was credited with being home to a “fearsome looking monster” with the story of the “water kelpie” always regarded as a myth, if not a joke.

But news of the couple’s sighting appeared to be treated with credence by the paper, with the two describing their astonishment to see a “tremendous upheaval on the loch, which, previously, had been calm as the proverbial mill pond.”

The loch was soon to take on the appearance of a “simmering cauldron” as creature flailed around with the water turning to a “boiling mass of foam” as it disappeared from view.

The newspaper reported: “The lady was the first to notice the disturbance which occurred fully three-quarters of a mile form the shore, and it was her sudden cries to stop that drew her husband’s attention to the water.

“There, the creature disported itself, rolling and plunging for fully a minute, its body resembling that of a whale, and the water cascading an churning like a simmering cauldron.

“Soon, however, it disappeared in a boiling mass of foam. Both onlookers confessed there was something uncanny about the whole thing, for they realised that here was no ordinary denizen of the depths because, apart from its enormous size, the beast, in taking the final plunge, sent out waves that were big enough to have been caused by a passing steamer.”

The couple waited for half and hour in the hope the creature would return but it was not seen again.

The woman said the beast must have been “many feet long” given the state of the water.

The paper noted how, a few years earlier, a party of Inverness anglers encountered an “unknown creature” when crossing the loch in a rowing boat, with the accounts treated with scepticism.

It was suggested they may have crossed paths with large seal or a porpoise.

However, the paper added: “It should be mentioned that, so far as is known, neither seals or porpoises have ever been known to enter Loch Ness.

“Indeed, in the case of the latter, it would be utterly impossible for them to do so.”

Last year, alleged sightings of the Loch Ness monster rose to eight - the highest number since 2000.

In recent years, the most sightings were made in 1996 when 17 accounts were logged with the official register.

More sightings were made in the 1930s and the 1960s, when sometimes more than 20 a year were logged logged.

The first reference to a monster in Loch Ness was made in 565 AD when a sea creature reportedly attempted to gulp down a local farmer, before being banished back into the water by St Columba.