If it’s true, it’s one of Mother Nature’s biggest and best pranks to date. According to a Loch Ness “expert,” who has dedicated over two decades of his life to hunting down the legendary Nessie, it’s time for everyone to pack their bags, close our storybooks and go home — the Loch Ness monster is nothing more than a catfish. A really big catfish, to be sure, but a catfish all the same. The sound you’re now hearing is that of a million adventuring hearts being broken all at once.
While this news may be hard to swallow (unless properly cooked and seasoned), Steve Feltham, a self-described “fulltime Loch Ness monster hunter since 1991” believes that after 24 years, “Looking at all the evidence, speaking to eyewitnesses, the most likely solution is a Wels catfish.” Such a fish has the potential to grow to around 13 feet and some 900 pounds, but despite these impressive measurements, a catfish is no monster.
While sightings of the legendary sea creature date back to 565 AD (all carefully catalogued by The Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register), Feltham now believes that the fish (or fishes) have tricked us all for millennia. Speaking to The Times (UK) about his new hypothesis and the fish, Feltham said, “They are very long-lived and it is entirely possible they were introduced by Victorians to the loch, which would explain why the main sightings of Nessie really started in the 1930s — just as the animals were reaching maturity. I have to be honest. I just don’t think that Nessie is a prehistoric monster.”
The monster hunter by no means claims to have solved the great mystery of the Loch Ness monster, which is just as well, considering that Jason Schratwieser, conservation director for the International Game Fish Association, finds his conclusion hard to believe. He told CNN, “If they (Wels catfish) were introduced to the lake and had a viable population, I would expect people would catch them, you know?” But that isn’t to say that he believes that Nessie is some prehistoric underwater dragon either — rather, Schratwieser said, “I think people want to believe stuff like that. I think that it’s exciting to think that there are these strange things throughout the world. But again, for a confined body of water like that, I would be surprised if there was anything monster-ish in there.”
Catfish or not, it seems unlikely that Feltham’s claims will have any bearing on the legend of the Loch Ness monster, allowing Nessie, whether mythical or real, to remain as elusive and mysterious as ever.