Nov 04, 2015 I Paul Seaburn

Loch Ness Monster May Have Been a Marketing Invention

Say it isn’t so, Nessie! A forthcoming book claims the Loch Ness Monster was actually invented as part of a marketing campaign to increase tourism in northeast Scotland after the Great Depression. This could explain why there were so few sightings before 1933, but what about Saint Columba?

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Loch Ness Monster souvenirs

Science historian Professor Gareth Williams presents this possibility in his new book, “A Monstrous Commotion: The Mysteries Of Loch Ness.” He claims that novelist D.B. (Digby George) Gerahty wrote a semi-autobiographical novel called “Marise,” using the pen name Stephen Lister, in which he claims that he and two other publicists were hired in 1933 by hotel owners in northeast Scotland to help drum up business. What they came up with was the story of a monster that lived in Loch Ness and it has helped business in the area to this day. Here’s what the novel says:

Over several pints of beer we became midwives of the reborn Loch Ness monster. All we had to do was arrange for the monster to be sighted. This we did, and the story snowballed.

Shortly before his death in 1981, Gerahty admitted that the story was true to Henry Bauer, who wrote about it in his book, “The Enigma of Loch Ness.”

Professor Williams adds additional insight, claiming that the monster was inspired by Ogopogo, the 50-foot-long monster believed by First Nations people to live in Okanagan Lake, in British Columbia, Canada. He also reiterates that the invention of Nessie in 1933 would explain why there were a thousand sightings after 1933 but so few stories about it before then.

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Satellite image of what may be the Loch Ness Monster taken in 2015

Should we believe an ad man and doubt a saint? In the “Life of St. Columba” written in the 7th century by Adomnán, the Irish monk Columba heard from local pagans, the Picts, about a water beast in the River Ness, so he sent one of his followers into the river where the poor man was attacked by the monster until Columba made the sign of the cross and the beast fled. This of course was deemed a miracle and convinced the Picts to convert to Christianity. Can an ad man do that?

Is the story of St. Columba any more believable than the story of D.B. Gerahty? Could all of the thousand sightings of the Loch Ness Monster be wrong? What about the guy who says it’s just a big catfish?

What does Professor Williams think?

My premise is that whatever I think is immaterial, and whatever conclusion the reader reaches has got to be based on them filtering through the information and working things out for themselves.

Sounds like the professor could use a publicist too.


Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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