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When the Loch Ness Monsters Choose to Change Their Forms

A few days ago, I wrote articles here at Mysterious Universe on the supernatural sides of (A) the Men in Black and (b) the Bigfoot phenomenon. Today, I’m going to share with you my thoughts on the paranormal sides of the Loch Ness Monster (or, more likely, the Loch Ness Monsters). In fact, there are two aspects of the Nessie issue that are well worth addressing, so I’ll split it all into two parts. The first deals with the lesser-known – but highly important – issue of the ability of the creatures to change their shapes. Or, at least, that’s just how it appears to be. Are we talking about shape shifters? Incredibly, we just might be. We’ll begin with the mysteries of several centuries, when the creatures of the loch were termed “Kelpies.” Or, alternatively, “Water-Horses.” It should be noted, though, that although the creatures are assumed to be one and the same, there is one noticeable difference between the tales that specifically refer to kelpies and those that talk about water-horses. Typically, water-horses are far more at home in deep, sprawling lakes, while kelpies prefer pools, rivers, marshes, and lakes of a particularly compact kind. Then, there is a variant of the kelpie known as the Each-Uisge, which is a far more murderous monster than the kelpie, but which is clearly of the same supernatural stock.

The term, Kelpie, has unclear origins; although the most likely explanation is that it is a distortion of the Gaelic calpa, which translates as heifer. Kelpies are terrifying, murderous creatures that lurk in the depths of Scottish lochs, canals and rivers – and more than a few of them in Loch Ness. Not only that, like werewolves, kelpies are definitive shape-shifters; creatures that can take on multiple guises, including hideous serpentine monsters, horses, hair-covered humanoids, beautiful maidens of the mermaid variety, and horse-like creatures. The kelpie is solely driven to by a crazed goal to drown the unwary by enticing and dragging them into the depths, killing them in the process.

It’s important to note  it wasn’t in times long gone that people who lived around saw the beasts as shapeshifting things. As you’ll now see. The year 1880 was one of the most spectacular and nerve-jangling of all Nessie encounters took place. The unlucky eyewitness – and that really is the only way we can describe him – was a man named Duncan MacDonald. It was his task to take a dip into Loch Ness, at Johnnies Point, and examine a ship that had sunk in the entrance to the Caledonian Canal at Fort Augustus. MacDonald was confronted by something far stranger than a sunken ship. After being lowered to a depth of around thirty feet, he suddenly raced for the surface, practically screaming to his friends to haul him aboard their vessel. It was several days before MacDonald could bring himself to confide in the rest of the crew what he had seen. It was nothing less than a frog-like creature, perched on a rock shelf, and which was around the size of a fully-grown goat. No-one needs to be told that a frog doesn’t look like a long-necked beast!

The wave of encounters in 1933 prompted a Miss K. MacDonald to come forward with her account of a strange-looking creature in Loch Ness, one which looked nothing like the classic, humped, long-necked monster that was all the rage. According to Miss MacDonald, she saw a six-to-eight-foot-long animal swimming the River Ness, and approaching the Holm Mills weir. Very bizarrely, she described it as looking somewhat crocodile-like and added that it seemed to have very large teeth – or possible even elephant-like tusks! Some have suggested the creatures are huge salamanders. The problem is, though, that they don’t have long necks. Not even in the slightest. The plesiosaur has been suggested. This brings up another problem: Plesiosaurs had very long necks. Some go with the giant eel. But, there’s yet another problem: that eels can’t lift their head out of the water to significant degrees. The word “camel”-like has been used in some incidents.

Clearly, there’s an issue here that most definitely needs resolving. The idea that Loch Ness could be filled with four or five types of unknown animal is totally ridiculous. On the other hand, though, many might say that the shape-shifting angle is, too. Yet, the fact is that people do see multiple types of creatures in the waters of Loch Ness – and they are absolutely sure of what they have seen. It should be noted, too, that other Scottish lochs have monster legends attached to them. The Nessies are not alone.  They too, legend says, have the ability to shift their shapes. Folklorist Alexander Carmichael – who, in 1862, penned the book, Popular Tales of the West Highlands – said: “The Morag dwells in Loch Morar. She gives her name to the lake and still appears when any of the old Macdonalds of Morar die. Like the other water deities she is half human half fish. The lower portions of her body is in the form of a grilse and the upper in the form of a small woman of highly developed breasts with long flowing yellow hair falling down her snow white back and breast. She is represented as being fair, beautiful and very timid and never seen save when one of the Morar family dies or when the clan falls in battle.”

That Carmichael termed the Morags as half-human and half-fish, yet others have described them as definitively serpentine, is a good indicator that like the kelpies of Loch Ness, the Morags are shape-shifters. Unless, that is, numerous people have misidentified the thing, or things, they saw, over the centuries. That’s not likely, though. So, just like the Men in Black and Bigfoot that I addressed a few days ago, we might want to think again our ideas on what the Loch Ness Monsters are: flesh-and-blood animals or supernatural entities that should be far away from the world of zoology. Possibly, even outside of the domain of cryptozoology. Perhaps, the Nessie should be cataloged under “Supernatural.”

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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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