On this day in history : 12th November 1933 – The first known photograph of the ‘so-called’ Loch Ness Monster is taken by Hugh Gray….

According to Gray, he had been walking along the shore of Loch Ness after attending Church – when he spotted “an object of considerable dimensions, making a big splash with spray on the surface of the Loch”…. Fortunately he just happened to have a camera with him – and although the picture is blurred it does indeed resemble a large ‘monster type’ object….but when examined closely the shape of a dog’s head can be seen…. As Gray had a Labrador, which he often took walking with him, it is suspected the image is in fact of his dog fetching a stick from the water…. However, at the time the picture caused much excitement amongst those who believed in Nessie….img_4514

In December 1933 the Daily Mail hired a well known big-game hunter by the name of Marmaduke Whetherell, to find the monster…. He was soon to return to them with evidence he had found….a series of giant footprints leading from the Loch’s shore into the water…. He believed they had been made by a soft-footed creature at least 20 feet long…. However, zoologists at the Natural History Museum identified the footprints as have being made by a dried hippopotamus foot…. At the time it was commonplace for household items, such as umbrella stands, to be made from them – so it would not have been hard to obtain such an object…. It was concluded that the prints were a hoax – it was never determined if Whetherell was involved or if he just happened to be the one to find them – but he felt humiliated and embarrassed by the Daily Mail and retreated from public life….img_4515

In 1934 another photograph was taken which caused much excitement at the time…. Known as ‘The Surgeon’s Photograph’, it was taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson and published by the Daily Mail on the 21st of April 1934…. Wilson refused to have his name associated with the picture – but as he was a London gynaecologist this is how it became known a the Surgeon’s Photograph…. Wilson claimed he had been looking out across the Loch when the creature rose from the water – he grabbed his camera and took four shots…. Only two came out when developed and one was too blurred to be of much use…. Being a respected surgeon Wilson’s story was taken very seriously…. After the Daily Mail published the image hundreds, if not thousands of people flocked to Loch Ness to see if they could get a glimpse of Nessie…. There was much speculation that it was a plesiosaur- a dinosaur that had been extinct for millions of years….

The Surgeon’s Photograph – Fair use

In 1994, sixty years after the photograph was taken, Marmaduke Whetherell’s stepson, Christopher Spurling, admitted it was a hoax and revealed his own part in it…. His stepfather, harbouring a grudge, wanted to get his own back…. He enlisted the help of Christopher, a model-maker by trade, by getting him to model a monster’s head and neck from plastic and wood – which was then fixed to a toy submarine…. How convenient a London surgeon happened to be on the shore of the Loch with a camera at the time….

The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition

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