2017 has been a vintage year for Nessie. So far, there have been eight ‘official’ sightings of the Loch Ness Monster since the beginning of the year, which makes it the most active year for the creature this Millennium.
About time, too. Otherwise, Nessie appeared in imminent danger of extinction.
The heyday for Nessie sightings were in the 1960s and, before that, the 1930s. At those times, public interest in the monster was at its peak. Yearly sightings would frequently number in the twenties. The last ‘peak’ year for sightings was 1996, with 17 recorded encounters.
So, what has happened since?
I think that it is no coincidence that 1996, the last year which recorded multiple sightings of the Loch Ness Monster corresponds fairly closely with the start of widespread public access to the Internet.
Each generation needs its own myths. Myths serve as a mirror of prevailing social circumstances, as well as a driver for their formation, and the times they are a changin’.
The Internet has served a dual death-blow to Nessie. On the one hand, it provides an easily-available source of tested scientific information, which is quickly able to dispel some of the more fanciful claims, which have surrounded the existence of the monster; on the other hand, it offers up a vast array of new myths, many of which are manufactured either for profit or publicity, and which perhaps more accurately reflect the rapidly changing, short-attention span, consumerist society in which we now live.
A YouTube-savvy generation is neither gratified nor satisfied by grainy images of a minor disturbance in the pattern of waves across a cold and distant loch. It wants its monster myths to be performing handstands on skateboards; or shaking hands with the President on the front lawn of the White House.
And it is not just poor old Nessie. Popular interest in the Yeti also appears at an all-time low. And Big Foot? Not much mention of him/her for a while.
So, I am not convinced that 2017 represents a resurgence of Nessie interest. I think it is merely a final old-skool hurrah, amidst a trend of inevitable decline.
If the myth of Nessie looks set for extinction it will be due more to public apathy than scientific reasoning. Perhaps the same can be said for everything?
© Bradley Dunbar
Cryptozoologist Bradley Dunbar hopes it is not time to wave farewell to Nessie just yet.