Even the Loch Ness Centre’s logo — the instantly recognizable picture of a sort of humped eel cruising through waves on the lake’s surface — comes from a fuzzy 1934 black-and-white photo that was later proven to be fake.
Still, Matheson describes himself as a “believer,” though he imagines the monster as “something from this earth or something a bit more realistic” than some kind of ancient, alien or supernatural being. Scientists have speculated that the sightings could be huge catfish or giant eels.
But short of emptying the entire lake, Matheson said nothing will ever truly disprove a legend that has become a matter of faith for so many.
“People come here, they’re desperate, they’re looking, they’re searching,” he said. “And they really, really want to be able to hope that there is something that us humans, you know, we think we can know everything, to an extent.”
The weekend in the Scottish Highlands attracted some for whom Nessie is more of a vocation than a hobby.
Ken Gerhard, an American cryptozoologist who researches and writes about “animals” like bigfoot, Chupacabra and Mothman that live on the fringes of our known reality, traveled to Scotland from the states just for the event.
“I’m 90% convinced she exists,” said Gerhard, who also seemed to believe in the monster’s femininity. “I’ve never had a sighting or an observation, but if you immerse yourself in the evidence, you have over a thousand good sightings that are very consistent.”
Beyond the shaky photographic “proof,” believers’ primary argument in favor of Nessie’s existence is that the lake’s immense size and dark, peaty waters make it impossible to rule out the existence of even a large creature.
Several volunteers mentioned that Loch Ness contains more water than all of the lakes of England and Wales combined.
Indeed, McKenna said they had heard some “fantastic bizarre” sounds on Friday, but unfortunately the recording equipment hadn’t been plugged in.
“It may well be gas escaping from the bottom of the loch,” he said. “It could be an animal.”
“Of course it could be the elusive Loch Ness Monster,” he added.
So if any of the attendees were expecting this weekend to yield a revelation, they went home disappointed.