Reports of lake monsters abound across the planet. Among the most famous ones are Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster, Ogopogo of Lake Okanagan, and Champ of Lake Champlain. The big question is: if the creatures are real, then what, exactly, are they? Monster hunters suggest they may be relic populations of plesiosaurs, marine reptiles that are believed to have become extinct tens of millions of years ago. Other theorists suggest the creatures might be immense eels. Then there is the giant salamander scenario. Salamanders are amphibians that are noted for their long tails, blunt heads, and short limbs and which – in the case of the Chinese giant salamander – can reach lengths of six feet. But, is it possible that some salamanders could grow much larger, even to the extent of fifteen to twenty-five feet? Incredible? Yes. Implausible? Maybe not. Steve Plambeck is a noted authority on the giant salamander theory when it comes to the matter of the Loch Ness Monster. He says:
“Nessie is a bottom dwelling, water breathing animal that spends very little time on the surface or in mid-water, although just enough to be spotted visually or by sonar on very rare occasions. Its forays up from the depths are most likely made along the sides of the Loch, to feed on the fish which are predominantly found along the sides, in shallower water above the underwater cliffs that precipitously drop off into the 750 foot abyss. Such behavior is only consistent with a fish, or aquatic amphibian, which can extract all of its needed oxygen directly from the water.
“Yet as seldom as it happens, and for reasons known only to the animal itself, Nessie also leaves the water for apparently brief stretches, as observed most famously in the Spicer and Grant sightings of 1933 and 1934 respectively. It may be said that this is nothing new: it’s a centuries old tradition among the Highlanders that the kelpie or water horse of Loch Ness comes ashore. That’s a key behavioral trait to take into account if we are distinguishing fish from amphibians.”
In that sense, Plambeck makes a persuasive argument when it comes to the matter of the creatures of Loch Ness possibly being huge salamanders, or, at the very least, another kind of large, unknown amphibian. It’s a theory also noted by researcher “Erika.” She says of such a scenario: “This might seem ridiculous at first, but in China there is a species of giant salamander that can grow up to six feet long. Certainly this is an animal which is long enough, and odd enough, that if it surfaced in a lake, onlookers could be forgiven for mistaking it for a monster. There are other similarities which make this a plausible theory. The Chinese giant salamander lives in very cold fresh water, which describes Loch Ness handily. They are found in the rocky streams and mountain lakes of remote northern China, where they are as elusive as they are endangered."
Loch Ness Monster authority, Roland Watson, has also waded into this controversy: “Before long neck stories began to dominate peoples’ thinking, some held to the view that Nessie was some form of outsized amphibian and in particular the salamander. I am a bit partial to a fish-like amphibian or amphibian-like fish theory myself, so we are in agreement to some degree there. An amphibian has its issues just like any other Nessie theory but I am sure it can hold its own in the Nessie pantheon.”
Watson has also commented on the theories of Steve Plambeck: “One major block to a salamander interpretation is the traditional long neck of the creature. Salamanders do not have long necks. Steve however suggests that the long tail of the salamander can account for this apparent problem. I can see merit in that idea and have no problem believing that a long tail can be mistaken for a long neck by eyewitnesses.”
Seekers of unknown animals might be disappointed by the possibility that some of our most famous lake-monsters are merely salamanders and nothing else. But, when actually confronted, at close quarters, by such a creature – and one of twenty-to-twenty-five-feet in length - very few would probably quibble with the notion that such a thing should be classed as a monster!