IN DEFENSE OF NESSIE
When classifying the creature, many scientists point first to the plesiosaur, believing Nessie to be the last of her herd from the Cretaceous period. After all, Nessie sightings fit well within the profile of the ancient beast, and more importantly, provide the underpinnings for an evolutionary answer to her existence. Yet despite what seemed like a mostly logical assumption, the plesiosaur theory proved to be just one possibility among many.
Throughout the 1930s, Commander R.T. Gould, a retired British naval officer, became one of Nessie’s staunchest defenders (though he never pegged her for a plesiosaur). Instead, he described the 50-foot creature with the “grayish-brown body” as a “vastly enlarged, long-necked, marine form of the common newt…”
While a newt (Salamandridae pleurodelinae) seemed an unlikely alternative to a plesiosaur, so too, did Terrence McGrath’s assessment—that the creature was actually a downed German blimp (Blimpus downus). The shipping executive announced his theory in September of 1934. Soon after, divers from the British Admiralty identified a blimp in the water, providing at least a momentary answer.
However, later that year Nature magazine declared the monster a wayward gray seal (Halichoerus grypus), likely from a breeding ground in the nearby Orkney Islands. And just days after that, at the Fortieth Annual Zoological Society meeting in New York, Dr. William Beebe declared her a giant squid (Architeuthis). Not to be outdone, at a garden party in June of 1934, Dr. W. Reid Blair, director of the Bronx Zoo, jokingly informed guests that he would pay $25,000.00 for a live capture of the alleged beast—whatever it was. Yet the joke soon turned serious as monster hunters throughout Europe began taking him up on his offer, contacting Blaire to inquire on the particulars of receiving the bounty. Blair humored them, adding, “The conditions are that it be forty feet long, weigh two tons and be brought here alive.” While the zoo director admitted that there seemed to be “something unusual in Loch Ness,” he was not inclined to call it a monster.