Jun 05, 2020 I Nick Redfern

Giant Eels and the Loch Ness Monsters: Problems with the Neck

In the last few days there has been a surge of online debate and interest in the theory that the Loch Ness Monsters might be giant eels. It's an interesting theory, as eels  - of normal sizes - do live in the loch. But, what of gigantic eels? In a May 28, 2020 article titled "Jeremy Wade and those Loch Ness Eels," Roland Watson - one of the leading figures in the quest to solve the Nessie riddle - wrote: "A perusal of old newspaper stories from the 1930s shows that the giant eel theory was doing the rounds pretty early on." Roland also says: "The largest known eels are the moray eels which have been known to reach up to 4 meters (nearly 12 feet) in length whereas a typical Nessie sighting suggests a creature up to 10 meters (about 30 feet) in length. The girth of eels versus nessies is also problematic as eels tend to be serpentine in appearance whereas Nessie has a bulky middle portion. Nevertheless, some form of giant eel would stand well against competing theories and would not tend towards the ridiculous as the various features of the Loch Ness Monster are reconciled with what is possible in the animal world."

On May 26, 2007 Gordon Holmes filmed, well, something, in Loch Ness. It was something that turned him into an overnight media sensation – albeit a brief sensation. The day in question was dominated by heavy rain, but which cleared as the evening arrived, allowing Holmes to get clear footage of what looked like some kind of animal moving at a significant rate of knots in the waters of Loch Ness. The specific location from where all the action was captured was a parking area, on the A82 road, just a couple of miles from Drumnadrochit.  Not only that, Holmes estimated, as he excitedly watched and filmed, that the creature was around fourteen meters in length - which, if true, effectively ruled out everything known to live in the inland waters of the British Isles.

Holmes, a lab technician, caught the attention of not just the British media, but also the likes of NBC News and CNN. He, and his near-priceless film, were quickly big news. Holmes said, when the media descended upon him in absolute droves, that he could scarcely believe what he was seeing. It was a large, black-colored animal that had a length of around forty-five feet. His first thought was: giant eel. Holmes told the media of the eel theory: "They have serpent-like features and they may explain all the sightings in Loch Ness over the years."

On September 5, 2019, the BBC ran an article titled "Loch Ness Monster may be a giant eel, say scientists." An extract from the article reads as follows: "Prof Neil Gemmell, a geneticist from New Zealand's University of Otago, said: 'There is a very significant amount of eel DNA. Eels are very plentiful in Loch Ness, with eel DNA found at pretty much every location sampled - there are a lot of them. So - are they giant eels? Well, our data doesn't reveal their size, but the sheer quantity of the material says that we can't discount the possibility that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness. Therefore we can't discount the possibility that what people see and believe is the Loch Ness Monster might be a giant eel.'"

As the above demonstrates, the idea that the Nessies are huge eels is an interesting one. Some might say it's a persuasive theory. There is, however, an issue that needs resolving. But, I'm not sure that the particular issue can be resolved. Many witnesses to the Nessies have described the creatures as having long necks. People talk of the creatures' heads and necks standing prominently - almost vertically, even - out of the water. The fact is that eels simply cannot do that. Electric eels have been known to leap out of the water (see this link), but that's a very different thing. Unless Loch Ness has giant eels in its depths that have radically altered across untold numbers of centuries, then the likelihood is that the creatures of Loch Ness are not eels. As for me, I still go with the supernatural theory.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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