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Giant Turtles and the Loch Ness Monsters: Can We Ever Identify Them?

You may have seen that the theory the Loch Ness Monsters could be huge turtles has resurfaced (no pun intended…). Roland Watson, one of the leading figures in Nessie research, says in his new article “The Nessie Turtle Theory,” the following: “Turtles lay eggs and go ashore to lay them in often large numbers. No such activity has ever been witnessed of the Loch Ness Monster. Indeed, it is doubtful that any that could be construed as reproductive has ever been observed with any certainty. Obviously, no eggs have been found or the mystery would have been solved by now. It could be counter proposed that such a cryptid turtle gives birth to live young but since all known turtles lay eggs, this would seem a drastic departure. It may be suggested, like our snake necked turtle above, that it could lay eggs in the waters of the loch. The problem here is that the snake necked turtle lives in the warm waters of Australia. It is unlikely a developing egg could survive in the cold waters of Loch Ness.”

Roland’s words make it very clear – for a couple of reasons – that there’s no way the Nessies are turtles, regardless of their sizes. So, what else might they be? That’s the theme of today’s article. I’ll begin with the theory of Ted Holiday, a Nessie seeker in the 1960s and 1970s. For Ted Holiday, the plesiosaur, giant eel, and salamander theories were flawed and lacking in substance. He came to the somewhat unusual, and certainly unique, scenario that the Nessies were gigantic versions of everyday slugs. The biggest problem with Holiday’s theory was that it was beset by issues that made it most unlikely to have merit. For example, the specific kind of invertebrate that Holiday had in mind – Tullimonstrum – only grew to lengths of around lengths of fourteen inches. On top of that, it lived solely in the muddy landscapes of Pennsylvania, USA.

Oh, and one more thing that should be noted: it went extinct around 300 million years ago. None of these seemingly important points appeared to bother Holiday in the slightest, who continued to pursue his theory with a great deal of enthusiasm. Such was the level of gusto that Holiday mustered, by 1968 he had written an entire book on the subject of his pet-theory. Its title: The Great Orm of Loch Ness (“orm” being a centuries-old term meaning “worm”). There’s no doubt that Holiday made a brave case for the theory that the Nessies were massive invertebrates. Too bad, his case wasn’t good enough.

How about plesiosaurs? If the Nessies are plesiosaurs, then let’s say that at any given time there are around twenty of them in the loch, ranging from (a) young and small to (b) large and old. That would be a reasonable figure to ensure the continuation of a healthy herd. Let’s also say they, like crocodiles, can stay submerged, and without taking in oxygen, for up to 2-hours at a time. This means that in any one-day, each plesiosaur would have to surface around twelve times. Twenty plesiosaurs, surfacing twelve times a day (at a minimum, I should stress), would equate to 240 surfacing events every single twenty-four-hour-long period. Multiply that by a week and the figure is elevated to 1,680. Then, multiply that by fifty-two weeks in a year and the figure becomes a massive 87,360 annually.

Even if ninety percent of the surfacing events went unnoticed or unreported (for fear of ridicule, perhaps), that would still mean in excess of 8,000 reports per year of every year. But, the fact is that the number of sightings reported per annum equates to barely a handful. And let’s say there are only around ten plesiosaurs at any particular time in the loch (rather than my suggested twenty), well, that still means a potential 43,680 cases of the animals surfacing across 365 days. Finally, there is the matter of Nessie’s famous, long neck. A study of fossilized remains of plesiosaurs has demonstrated that the animals simply were not built to raise their necks high out of the water in the proud and prominent fashion that has been attributed to the Loch Ness Monsters. Once again, not a good candidate for the Nessies.

Now, onto eels of the huge type? That’s a candidate I have at least some time for. Around 10:00 p.m. 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.”

Japanese giant salamander

Finally, there’s the scenario of a giant salamander. That’s the theory of Steve Plambeck, who I think could very well be on target. Steve says: “Morphologically, the animal captured in the Hugh Gray Photo doesn’t look very much like a fish in my opinion, but instead bears an exceedingly similar form to many aquatic salamanders.  But those of similar form and similar size are unknown outside the fossil record.  Within the fossil record though, they are quite well known.  When it comes to living forms, the Chinese Giant Salamander, Andrias davidianus, is recognized as the largest amphibian in the modern world, reaching a length of six feet.  The Loch Ness Giant Salamander seems to have that beaten by a factor of at least three, if not four or five.”

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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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