Surgeon's Photo of the Loch Ness Monster

The Surgeon's Photograph

Most sightings of "Nessie" only involve a series of humps, water disturbances, or the appearance of a large, underwater object. Yet when most people think of the Loch Ness Monster, they imagine a large dinosaur, towering out of the water. Why is that?

One picture. One famous photograph changed pop culture and urban legend forever.

The Year: 1933

Nessie-mania is in full-swing. A few sightings, possibly legitimate, fueled a phenomenon that brought about a lot of tricksters and hoaxes. But there was an air of legitimacy added to the whole spectacle in 1934 when a respected British surgeon, a man by the name of Colonel Robert Wilson, took what became one of the most interesting photographs in the world.

He had been driving along the road, looking at the calm lake, when this monster rose up. He quickly snapped two photos, the first one turning out the best. He allowed them to be published, but fearing ridicule, forced them to withold his name. All they knew was that a "surgeon" took the photo.

The Famous Photograph

Popularity of the photo spread, and the picture was featured numerous times in newspapers and journals everywhere. It soon became iconic, and from then on, whoever thought of the Loch Ness Monster thought of the Surgeon's Photo.

Adding to the credibility of the photo was the fact that it was taken by a doctor, who should be pretty credible, right? Well...

Revealed as a Hoax

To begin with, a lot of people expressed doubts about the photograph. The object looked so... small... compared to the waves around it. And compared to the shoreline behind it.

Proof finally came in the mid 1990's in the form of a deathbed confession. A man named Christian Spurling admitted that he, the surgeon, and a monster-hunter named Marmaduke Wetherell faked the entire thing.

Wetherell had been humiliated a year earlier when he offered "proof" of a monster by showing a footprint, but it turned out that Wetherell had faked it. The world found out, and his credibility was shot. This was his way of confusing the masses. The surgeon agreed to be the "credible" source, and Spurling had helped create the model.

It was the end of an era. One of the most convincing photographs had been blasted out of the water, and the scientific effort to find "Nessie" has been hurting ever since.

But is the Confession a Hoax?

Because of some inconsitiancies and strange omissions in Spurlings account, some people believe that the confession itself, or even the story of the confession, is a hoax. Even now, the debate rages on.

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