The Museum of Hoaxes
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Eras: 0-1699 1700s 1800-1868 1869-1913 1914-1949 1950-1976 1977-1989 1990s 2000s
The Hoax Archive — A collection of the most notorious deceptions throughout history
Loch Ness Monster Hoaxes
The Spray Photograph. On November 12, 1933, Hugh Gray was walking back from church along the shore of Loch Ness when, so he later claimed, he saw an "object of considerable dimensions—making a big splash with spray on the surface" of the Loch. Luckily he had his camera with him, so he began snapping pictures. Only one of the pictures showed anything. Nessie believers hailed it as the first photographic evidence of the monster. Skeptics, however, dismissed it as... Continue…
The Surgeon’s Photo, 1934. In April 1934, Colonel Robert Wilson, a respected British surgeon, came forward with a picture that appeared to show a sea serpent rising out of the water of Loch Ness. Wilson claimed he took the photograph early in the morning on April 19, 1934, while driving along the northern shore of the Loch. He said he noticed something moving in the water and stopped his car to take a photo. For decades this photo was considered to be the best evidence of... Continue…
The Stuart Photograph. On July 14, 1951, Forestry Commission employee Lachlan Stuart took a picture of mysterious humps rising from the loch. Over twenty years later researchers visited the spot where he had taken the picture and realized the humps would have been in extremely shallow water close to the shore, meaning that Stuart's monster must have been awfully flat. Confirming their suspicions, author Richard Frere later revealed that Stuart had confessed to him the... Continue…
The MacNab Photograph. July 29, 1955: Bank manager Peter MacNab snapped a photo of something large moving through the water of the loch near Urquhart Castle. But when researcher Roy Mackal studied the photo, he discovered differences between the negative of the image and the print that MacNab had originally shown to the media. Specifically, there was more of the image in the print than there was in the negative (the tree at the bottom left is missing from the... Continue…
Body of Nessie Found, 1972. On the day before April Fool's Day, 1972, a team of British zoologists from the Flamingo Park Zoo found a mysterious carcass floating in Loch Ness. Initial reports claimed it weighed a ton and a half and was 15 ½ feet long. Continue…
Frank Searle, Monster Hunter. Frank Searle, a former army captain, arrived in Loch Ness to search for the monster during the early 1970s and soon established a reputation as a definite character. He was like a colonial-style adventurer, assisted by a succession of attractive young "monster huntresses." He took an enormous number of photos of Nessie, many of which were published by the media, but all of which have been dismissed by experts as fakes. His early photos, such as... Continue…
The Flipper Photo. August 7, 1972: An expedition to find Nessie led by Dr. Robert Rines of the Academy of Applied Science struck gold when its underwater camera took a picture of what appeared to be the flipper of a large aquatic animal resembling a plesiosaur. However, the relatively clear image of a flipper shown to the public was not quite what the camera had initially recorded. The initial image was far less distinct. (It basically looked like a shot of a bunch... Continue…
Nessiteras Rhombopteryx. Sir Peter Scott of the Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau participated in the 1972 expedition that produced the flipper photo. Feeling that the photo provided proof that some kind of large creature existed in the loch, he decided to give the animal a scientific name: Nessiteras Rhombopteryx (which meant "the Ness wonder with a diamond fin"). But London newspapers soon pointed out that if you juggled around the letters in this name, you got... Continue…
The Loch Ness Muppet, 1977. May 21, 1977: Anthony 'Doc' Shiels claimed that he took this picture while camping beside Urquhart Castle. Its startling clarity (it's probably the clearest picture of Nessie ever taken) has made it popular with the public. But it's hard to find any expert willing to take it seriously, simply because the creature depicted in it looks so obviously fake. (And it's odd that there are no ripples in the water around the neck.) Skeptics refer to... Continue…
Loch Ness Conger Eels. May 2, 2001: Two large, serpent-like conger eels were found on the shore of the loch. Since the eels were saltwater creatures and the loch is freshwater, they evidently had been placed there. The leading theory was that a hoaxer, hoping the eels would be mistaken for mini-Nessies, had dumped them there. Continue…
The Loch Ness Fossil. July 2, 2003: Gerald McSorley, a Scottish pensioner, found a fossilized section of a plesiosaur vertebrae when he accidentally tripped and fell into the loch. Nessie enthusiasts speculated the fossil might have come from an ancestor of the monster. But subsequent examination revealed the vertebrae were embedded in limestone not found near Loch Ness, and the fossil showed signs of having recently been in a marine environment. In other words, it... Continue…
The Loch Ness Tooth. March 2005: Two American students visiting Scotland claimed to have found an enormous tooth (possibly belonging to Nessie) lodged in the carcass of a deer along the shore of the loch. However, (so they said) a game warden who happened to be passing by almost immediately confiscated the tooth from them, though not before they got a few pictures of it. The students subsequently created a website to publicize their find and lobby for the return of... Continue…

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  • All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.