Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Loch Ness Speech + Brief Art Update

Tonight we gave our persuasive speeches. I went over. I didn’t think I was going to be able to fill the 6 to 8 minutes, but I ended up going over 9 minutes. Annoyed I was not happy. Anyway, for those of you who might be curious here is the speech as I wrote it. No pictures, because I used pictures from books instead of putting together a slide show.

Waves without wind,
A fish without a fin,
And a floating island.
These are the words to an old legend about Loch Ness, an enormous lake in the hills of Northern Scotland.
For centuries the people around the loch would see things in there. They would talk about it amongst themselves, but not with outsiders. After all, the notion of a massive creature it the water does sound a little crazy. But this all changed in 1933 when a new road was built. With all the new traffic around the lake, more people who did not live there started to see something in the water, and they weren’t quiet about it like the residents of the area. The first big news sighting was by a couple named Mr. and Mrs John Mackay who were driving home along the new road. Mrs Mackay was looking out over the loch when she saw a violent commotion out in the water and two black humps rise out of the water. The back hump was bigger than the front, and together they stretched about twenty feet. She grabbed her husband who slammed on the brakes, and they watched the creature until it dove beneath the surface making a huge wave that rolled to the shore. At first they didn’t want to tell anyone about it because they were owners of an inn, and they were afraid that they would be accused by people of inventing the story to get business for their inn. Eventually they did tell a friend of theirs, a man named Alex Campbell, the warden in charge of protecting the salmon fishing on the loch. Having the job that he did, he also had seen things out in the Loch, and a few days after he talked to the Mackays he saw it himself again. He described it as having a long tapering neck about 6 feet long, and a massive hump behind it that was about thirty feet long. After this, he decided that it was time to start reporting these sightings. Mr. Campbell was also a reporter for a local newspaper, so he wrote the story himself. His editor said that if the creature was as big as he and the Mackays claimed, then it was a real monster. And that’s how the Loch Ness Monster got its name.
If there is something in the loch, what is it? The most popular theory is that it is actually a plesiosaur, or rather, many plesiosaurs, since it would be impossible for one animal to survive all throughout the centuries. The many descriptions given for the creature seem to all fit this theory as most people who claim to have seen it describe a massive creature with a long neck that stretches out of the water. Others, who claim to have seen the creature exit the water and come ashore, have described a giant seal with a long neck, which is also the same basic shape as a plesiosaur.
But what if it isn’t real as so many people claim? What have all these people been seeing? The most common accusation seems to be that people just see a big floating log, and their imaginations run away with them. And as for all the pictures taken most are so blurry that it is very hard to tell what exactly you are looking at in the picture. The ones that are clearer are all dismissed as hoaxes. None can be proven one way or the other.
There have also been many attempts to locate the monster with sonar scanners, and some have indeed detected something down there, but people also refute this as evidence for a creature saying that it could just be a school of fish. In the late 1960’s there was an incident that gave skeptics further fuel for refuting underwater photographic evidence. According to Jeanne Bendick, author of “The Mystery of the Loch Ness Monster, plans were put in motion to film a Sherlock Holmes movie about the monster in the loch. They had a fake monster which was pulled by a submarine. They never finished the film, because the monster broke away from the submarine and sank. They tried to recover it, but the monster was never found. Skeptics can now claim that underwater pictures and sonar contacts are not of the real Loch Ness Monster, but of the lost movie monster. The only problem is, this does not account for a picture taken on one of the Sonar research expeditions. The equipment detected a huge fast moving object, and snapped a picture of what appears to be a massive flipper attached to a body. If it were the missing movie prop, why would it have been moving so fast?
One good thing did come for Monster enthusiasts from this incident, the beginnings to an answer to the question of how creatures of that size could stay so well hidden for centuries. During the search for the movie monster they discovered an unexpected trench over 900 feet deep. Later side sonar scans showed evidence of caves in the steep sides of the loch. If there is air in these caves they would be the perfect habitat for these massive creatures. This survey also showed that there were massive channels in the bottom of the loch. With all these prospective hiding places it is easy to believe that Nessie can stay hidden as long as he wants.
Nessie may be the most famous, but he is far from the only monster to be spotted in a large body of water. In Their series “Strange and Unexplained Happenings” Authors Jerome Clark and Nancy Pear tell about many different “Monsters” found in large bodies of water. All over the world there are tales of other creatures living in swamps, lakes, and rivers. None of these creatures are recognized by science because, like Nessie, no one has been able to get a clear photograph of them. One of the most famous of these “Lake monsters” is a creature affectionately known as “Champ”. Champ is said to live in Lake Champlain, a one hundred mile long lake between Vermont and New York. According to cryptid researchers Halls, Spears, and Young, stories of a horned serpent living in the lake go back hundreds of years. Native American tribes from both sides of the lake had stories of a creature that lived there. Despite the ancient stories being of a horned creature, the blurry photographic evidence shows a creature similar to Nessie. The best photograph of Champ was taken by a woman in 1977. While swimming with her family Sandra Mansi saw a long neck rise out of the water and begin to look around. She ran to get her camera from the car and snapped a picture of it before she pulled her kids out of the water and fled. Fear of ridicule forced her to hide the picture for years, until she met Joseph Zarzinsky, a man who researched Champ. After speaking with him, she got up the courage to reveal the photograph, and in June of 1981 it was published in the New York Times. As a result, Champ’s popularity has since skyrocketed. Lawmakers in both New York and Vermont have even passed laws making Champ a protected species. No one knows if he exists, but if he does, they don’t want hunters and thrill seekers going out and killing him.
All throughout history sailors have reported seeing massive creatures at sea. Some of these, like the giant squid, have eventually been proven by science to be more than just a myth. There are many examples given in Monsters of the deep by Stuart Ross. While there is still not enough evidence to prove that Nessie exists, to write it off as just a story without proof, is just as foolish as believing something is there with no evidence to prove it. Even if no one ever comes up with conclusive proof, it is still exciting to think of the possibility of something there, deep in the Loch.
Next week is our very last speech class! This is where we will be doing our panel discussions. I am looking forward to this much more than any of my speeches, because instead of it being just me giving a speech all by myself, it’s going to be a group of us, and we are going to be discussing cryptozoology, one of my all time favorite topics.
Remember how I was all excited because I wasn’t going to have to do any more self portraits in my Drawing class? Well guess what our final project is for Design 1. That’s right, a self portrait. Yay. This one will be more than a basic pencil drawing. We are to pick a medium that we feel we need improvement on. I don’t know what I will pick yet. I hope I can make it look like me, because that is a requirement for the project. “It must be recognizable as you.” Wish me luck…

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