most famous picture of the Loch Ness
Monster, a grainy black and white photograph showing a long
head and neck emerging from the lake, turned out to be a hoax.
Christian Spurling, stepson of the flamboyant movie maker and
big game hunter "Duke" Wetherell, admitted he'd made the "monster"
out of some plastic and a clockwork, tinplate, toy submarine.
The picture (Often referred to as the "Surgeon's Photograph,"
because Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson, a physician, claimed
to had taken it by the Loch in April of 1934) had withstood
careful scientific examination. Monster fans had speculated
that the pictures showed a plesiosaur, while skeptics said it
must have been an otter head or tree trunk. Nobody seems to
have suspected it was actually a toy submarine.
Down the Story
to two Loch Ness researchers, David Martin and Alastair Boyd,
in 1993 they'd heard Wetherell's son, Ian, in a 1975 article,
had alleged that his father had faked one of the "Nessie" photographs.
A couple of things seem to ring true about his statement. First
he named Maurice Chambers as a part of the conspiracy. This
was the very man Wilson had said he was going to visit the day
he took photo. Also Ian Wetherell had mentioned that some of
the photos taken that had been included the far shoreline in
with only one exception, every version of the published pictures
had the shoreline cropped out, it seemed likely that Ian only
knew about it because he'd been there when the photo was taken.
Since by then Ian Wetherell was dead, the two men decided to
talk to Ian's stepbrother, Christian Spurling. When Martin and
Boyd visited him, Spurling, then 93, admitted he'd been approached
by Duke Wetherell to build a fake monster.
Wetherell apparently concocted the plan as revenge upon the
London Daily Mail newspaper. In 1933 the Daily Mail had
hired Wetherell to find the Loch Ness Monster. Soon after arriving
at the lake Wetherell found some strange tracks of a four-toed
creature in the soft mud near the water. Wetherell estimated
that whatever left the tracks must be twenty feet in length.
Plaster casts were taken and sent to the London Museum of Natural
History. While the world awaited the Museum's analysis, however,
hundreds of monster hunters and tourists showed up at the Loch.
Unfortunately after a few weeks the Museum announced that the
tracks were not that of an unknown monster, but those of a hippo.
Apparently Wetherell himself had been hoaxed. The dried foot
used to make the print was probably part of an umbrella stand
or ash tray. The Daily Mail was angered at Wetherell and ridiculed
and humiliated him.
soon after this that Spurling, who was a model-maker by trade,
was approached by his stepfather to build the "beast." Construction
was done with plastic wood over the conning tower of the toy
submarine he'd purchased. The neck, estimated by some from the
photograph to be over three feet high, actually measured between
8 and 12 inches.
give them their monster," Duke told his son. Ian Wetherell and
his father took the completed contraption and a camera to the
Loch and photographed it on a quiet bay, then sank the evidence
in the mud at the edge of the lake. The undeveloped film was
then passed to Chambers and on to Colonel Wilson, who had them
developed. He then sold them photo to the Daily Mail. The conspirators
were quite unprepared for the publicity the photo generated
and apparently decided not to admit the hoax. The story stayed
unknown for over sixty years.
everyone thinks that the photo is a fake. Some have questioned
why Martin and Boyd waited to announce the story until Spurling
was dead, making it impossible for others to question him. As
far as the beast itself goes, not even Boyd thinks that the
end of the Surgeon's photo is the end of the Loch Ness Monster.
Boyd, who has seen the creature himself, remains a believer.
constructed a fake monster out of a tinplate toy submarine
and plastic material.(Copyright Lee
Lee Krystek 1996-2011. All Rights Reserved.