Twenty-four years ago, Steve Feltham gave up his job, house and girlfriend to launch an epic hunt for the Loch Ness Monster. Now, he says, he believes it was all a giant fish tale.
Feltham says he suspects the creature, which has been the subject of discussion for more than 1,500 years by locals and tourists alike, is most likely a catfish—specifically a Wels catfish, which can grow up to 13 feet long.
That’s a disappointing conclusion to Nessie faithful, but it’s unlikely to sway their thinking, or their urge to travel to the region and see for themselves.
Nessie, like whisky, is big business in Scotland. Loch Ness attractions have seen higher than normal increases for the past two years, climbing 23% and 29% respectively. And many cruises of the lake are regularly sold out. Six years ago, the head of Loch Ness Marketing, estimated the economic worth of the monster to be roughly £25 million, or about $33.1 million.
“I have to be honest. I just don’t think that Nessie is a prehistoric monster,” Feltham reportedly said. “What a lot of people have reported seeing would fit in with the description of the catfish with its long curved back.”
Most people, when they think of “Nessie” think of the 1934 “surgeon’s photo,” which appeared to show a head emerging from the water. That was revealed sixty years later to be a hoax.
Still, over 1,000 people have claimed to see something. And that leads others, like Feltham (and even actor Charlie Sheen), to continue to search. And while the Scotsman’s quest might be at an end, a researched at the University of Otago in New Zealand is currently in the process of collecting water samples in the lake, and say he’s keeping an eye out for “monster DNA.”