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Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Loch Ness Seal

It was official. The Loch Ness Monster had been found! It was March 31, 1972, and eight scientists from the Flamingo Park Zoo, Yorkshire, were having breakfast at the Foyers House hotel on the shore of the loch. They were there with the Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau (LNPIB) and were going to try out a new “hormone sex bait” to try to lure in a monster.

But it seemed like they didn’t have to, because the hotel manager came up to them during breakfast and told them that someone had just reported seeing “a large hump” that was floating in the loch, and near the hotel, too! And when the scientists went to look, they saw it - a large, dark colored object about 300 yards offshore, bobbing up and down in the water.

The scientists were directed to their boat by Terence O’Brien, the leader of the team. They went out into the loch to investigate the object, and returned 20 minutes later, at 9 a.m., with the dead body of a monster!

The news quickly spread around the world. Within hours, televisions were reporting that the Loch Ness Monster was dead. News reporters flocked to the lake. Residents there confirmed that something had been found. “I touched it and put my hand in its mouth. It’s real, all right,” Robert MacKenzie said. “I thought it looked half-bear and half-seal… green in color… with a horrific head like a bear with flat ears. I was shocked.”

Headline from the April 1, 1972 edition of the
Los Angeles Times

Other people there told the reporters that the monster was between 12 and 18 feet long and weighed 1 ½ tons. It was described as having a “green body without scales and was like a cross between a walrus and a seal.”

Don Robinson, Director of the Flamingo Park Zoo, was contacted and he seemed to confirm the whole thing.

“I’ve always been skeptical about the Loch Ness Monster, but this is definitely a monster, no doubt about that. From the reports I’ve had, no one has ever seen anything like it before… a fishy, scaly body with a massive head and big protruding teeth.”
The scientists had loaded the body up in their truck and sped it back to the zoo. Or, they tried to, at least. The Inverness police heard that the English scientists were making off with their Scottish monster, and they contacted the police in Fifeshire County. The police went after the “monster-nappers” and soon caught up to them. The scientists pulled over and showed them the creature in the back of their truck, which was again described as “green and scaly.” 

The body was taken to the nearest town, Dunfermline. The police had Michael Rushton, curator of the Edinburgh Zoo, examine it. Rushton did so, and found that it was by no means a monster - it was a bull elephant seal, about 3 to 4 years old. Elephant seals live in the South Atlantic Ocean, located thousands of miles from Scotland. “I have never known them to come near Great Britain,” Rushton said. “I don’t know how long it’s been kept in a deep freeze but this has obviously been done by some human hand.”

The next day, it was revealed that the whole thing was a hoax. John Shields, education officer at the Flamingo Park Zoo, admitted that he was the one behind it. He had used a seal that was recently brought back from the Falkland Islands, but which died shortly after, to prank his colleagues.

Geneva Times article

Shields had obtained the seal, shaved off its whiskers, padded its cheeks with stones, and then froze it for a week. On the 31st he had dumped it in Loch Ness and then called the hotel to be sure the other scientists found it. Shields timed the whole thing so that the “monster” would make headlines on April 1st, which also happened to be his 23rd birthday.

He did admit, however, that the whole thing got “out of hand” when the police went after the scientists and the “monster.” He also noted that the seal was not green and scaly, and was only 9 feet long and 350 pounds.

When the police found out that the whole thing was a prank, they let the scientists take it back to the Flamingo Park Zoo. When the team returned with it, it was displayed on a block of ice for a few days before being properly disposed of.

The Loch Ness seal

But there may be even more - and something even stranger - to this already strange story.
Two weeks after the seal story, Norman Slater, a 28-year-old teacher from Wisconsin, was on a fishing trip at the loch. While there he dipped his hand in the water and, he said, he detected - with extrasensory perception - “the presence of six large creatures in the water.” He claimed he saw a “particularly vivid image” of a creature that was between 70-90 feet long, with a “large neck” and “slim, worm-like body.” The top of the monster was “brown and scaly” and the bottom was white. Slater said the animals were “just lying around the bottom” and also claimed that he could see underwater passages connecting the loch to the sea!

Slater complained that he was the victim of bad timing, since the Loch Ness seal hoax had just happened, and that no reporters would take his vision of  “obvious scientific importance” seriously. But it would not surprise me if he was only trying to follow the seal story with another hoax.

This story of a "Not-Loch Ness Monster" (more can be found here) is part of a new examination I am doing… more on that later...

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