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Labyrinths from the Library: The Mysteries of Loch Ness

by Traci Avet on 2024-02-19T07:03:51-07:00 | 2 Comments

On May 2, 1933, the Inverness Courier newspaper in Scotland published a remarkable account titled "Strange spectacle on Loch Ness - What was it?" The article described the sighting of an unidentifiable sea creature moving through the dark waters of Loch Ness, a large body of water in the Scottish Highlands. A local couple had witnessed it together, with the husband stating, "I saw the nearest approach to a dragon or prehistoric animal that I have ever seen in my life."

It wasn't the first sighting of the legendary monster in the loch. There had been talk among residents for many generations; in fact, the first written report of a Loch Ness creature was in a 565 AD biography of St. Columba. But the publication of that news article spawned what would become a global fascination, with sightings and research of the Loch Ness phenomenon continuing to this day.

One common theory is that the monster (also known as Nessie) is a plesiosaur due to its size, shape, and curvature. Some researchers previously felt that plesiosaurs couldn't subsist in Loch Ness' freshwater and would need saltwater to thrive. But in 2022, University of Bath researchers unexpectedly found fossils of 12 plesiosaurs in an ancient Saharan freshwater site. While previous studies had offered evidence of this, lead researcher Dr. Nick Longrich asserted that such a large and intact discovery was "proof that it was not just one plesiosaur that wandered into freshwater and then died there."

Indeed, Scotland itself is rife with geological anomalies; archeologists even uncovered a fossilized velociraptor skeleton in "almost pristine condition" on Scotland's Isle of Skye's Trotternish peninsula. The Great Glen fault line where Loch Ness is located came from tectonic plate movements over 350 million years ago; later, glacial and further tectonic shifts would form the loch itself. The loch's water, teeming with peat, is almost black. With Loch Ness's murky depth, undisturbed sediment layers date back to the Ice Age and could provide researchers with valuable data - Jurassic and otherwise.

Another theory is that Nessie is literally a sea serpent evolved from a prehistoric eel. After a 60-foot water creature was recorded swimming near a large hydroelectric dam in Scotland's River Ness, Dr. Neil Gemmell from the University of Otago pointed to his own research finding extensive eel DNA in the Loch Ness waters. "Well, our data doesn't reveal their size," he admits, "but the sheer quantity of the material says that we can't discount the possibility that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness."

From unclassified sharks to giant catfish, countless guesses have been made for what Nessie is: former Virginia Polytechnic chemist Dr. Henry Bauer, for example, believed it to be an extant sea turtle. Whatever the species, boat skipper George Edwards claims he's seen the arched-back creature enough times that he's convinced there are several within Loch Ness. "There's got to be a family of them."

UOPX library technologist Mike Check had his own near-sighting experience. "It was for my honeymoon, and we stayed at the Clansman Hotel. Right on the loch," says Mike. Billed as "the only hotel overlooking Loch Ness," it gave Mike and his wife direct access to the shore and incomparable views from and of the loch.

One morning, Mike spotted something in the water as he and his wife, Heather, were enjoying breakfast from a window seat that looked out over the loch. "I see a ripple coming across the loch heading our way," he says. "I told Heather, and we watched it come right across the loch towards the hotel." It wasn't until it was more than halfway across the loch that they could tell that it was just a small fishing boat with three men about to visit for breakfast. "What looked like a relatively close coastline on the other side," explains Mike, "was actually really far away."

Such perceptions can't only be blamed on adventurous imaginations. Averaging 755 feet deep – and with sections as deep as 812 feet - Loch Ness is deep enough to hide the Empire State Building. Scotland's second-largest (by surface) and second-deepest loch, it's also the largest loch by volume, holding more water than all England and Wales lakes combined.

"It's a lot bigger than you would imagine, and things get blown out of proportion real easily," Mike recalls. "It was incredibly beautiful."

Want to learn more?

Much like the hidden depths of the loch, a treasure trove of information lurks in the most unexpected places. Explore the library database resources below to learn more about the Loch Ness legend.



Library Sighting 1: Loch Ness and the Environmental Scan

conduct and environmental scan guideIn business, effective research can fine-tune your navigation chart, helping to guide you through treacherous waters and uncover opportunities hiding just beneath the surface. For a company to confidently make manufacturing, distribution, product design, marketing, or other decisions, they can utilize an environmental scan – and the library has a guide for that. Our environmental scan guide outlines how to find various types of company, industry, and other information to suit your needs.

To begin, consider your goals and go from there. For example, if you were a monster hunter searching for Nessie, we'd recommend an industry overview of commercial fishing and perhaps an industry profile of deep-sea transport. New technological advances or SWOT analyses might represent long-term or emergency safety protocols that your small operation could implement. Some reports even help show how your competitor views you.

Or you might be the Loch Ness monster: newly discovered, script in hand, and eager to build your brand. Company profiles might help with the brainstorming, but you'd also need to know who you might be up against in trademark court. Maybe you're thinking of branching out into Plesiosaur designer wear. Some reports even offer branding and happy hour ideas at the same time.

Whether you're an entrepreneur of sea monster protection products or just a cryptid with a dream, be sure to check out our helpful guide. Because making uninformed decisions in your memo "mission statement" is scary.

Library Sighting 2: Loch Ness and the PESTEL Analysis

One facet of the environmental scan focuses on external factors that might be impactful. One popular tool for this is the PESTEL analysis, and the library just added a brand-new PESTEL analysis guide that walks you through it. A PESTEL analysis looks at the external factors that might impact a company long-term in one or more of these areas: Political, Economic, Sociocultural, Technological, Environmental, and Legal. Considering that PESTEL analyses investigate potential opportunities and threats within each category, you can imagine how helpful it would be to review other PESTEL analyses that may have been conducted within your field of interest.

For example, researchers in Romania and Bulgaria were working on the Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) project, an initiative designed to identify potential issues and resolutions involved in cross-border partnerships in the Black Sea. Because they wanted to focus on external factors (rather than within-organization or across-industry factors) that might impact the project, they set out to conduct a PESTEL analysis. You can read the full PESTEL analysis in the ProQuest database, but here are a few examples of what they found, along with examples of how others can gain valuable information from reviewing their PESTEL results:

  • Political: MSP researchers identified changing tax policy (rates and incentives) as a factor. If you were a monster hunter, could you write off your efforts to catch Nessie at the end of the year? Or if you were taxed instead, would that be by weight?
  • Economic: MSP researchers identified tourism development as a factor. If you were Nessie, what kind of privacy could you earnestly expect as a resident?
  • Sociocultural: MSP researchers identified sedentarism of the population quite pronounced as a barrier/threat. As Nessie, this points towards a possible reduction in meal costs.
  • Technological: MSP researchers identified low-cost Internet access as an opportunity. As a monster hunter, this might be good news for your social media sponsorships.
  • Environmental: MSP researchers identified endangered species as a factor. As Nessie, could you secure luxe accommodations as a VIP? Maybe arrange to meet Brad Pitt?
  • Legal: MSP researchers identified a long period of time to obtain building permits as a barrier. As a monster hunter, how might this impact strategic planning for your Nessie Theme Park?

Whatever your industry or interests, our PESTEL analysis guide will keep you from taking a long walk off a short pier.


Traci AvetTraci Avet is a library operations specialist who focuses on course reading pages and other library operations. She's worked in libraries for over 20 years and had the pleasure of experiencing vast card catalogs and due-date card stamping.

 Add a Comment

Posts: 1
stephen ogutu 2024-03-03T10:19:50-07:00

Good morning, Traci Avet I have to Deconstruct non scholarly article and critique it using scholarly tone. I came across this article on the mysteries of Loch Ness and I am going to use the blog for my activity. I would like to correctly cite the blog post would you mind filling this information for me please.

  • Author of the text:
  • Title of the text:
  • Type of text (e.g., editorial, blog, etc.)

Thank you Stephen.


Posts: 4
Traci Avet 2024-03-04T07:48:59-07:00

Hi, Stephen! This is a blog post authored by Traci Avet and with the title of "Labyrinths from the Library: The Mysteries of Loch Ness". Best of luck on your activity!


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