In the season finale of Animal Planet’s documentary series “River Monsters,” which debuted May 27, 2013, host Jeremy Wade travels to Scotland to investigate the Loch Ness Monster. The show, now in its fifth season, features zoologist and extreme fisherman Wade traveling the world to investigate stories of monstrous freshwater beasts. In each episode Wade looks into local folklore, interviews witnesses, and does some fishing to see if he can catch the monster fish in question.
In this episode, the show looks for the most famous water monster in the world, Nessie. Wade does a good job talking about famous sightings, popular explanations for the sightings, and the infamous faked photos of the beastie. He interviews some credible sounding witnesses, and gives his ideas on what kind of creature Nessie may or may not be. He also discusses the plesiosaur theory and concludes that this is not a plausible candidate for Nessie. He does not rule out the plesiosaur because they are supposedly extinct, because he has personally caught fish that have been around since the time of the plesiosaur. He rules out the plesiosaur because it’s a reptile and not a fish. Reptiles are air breathers and need to come up for air several times a day. If Nessie were surfacing several times daily then sightings would be much more common.
The extreme angler does some fishing to see what he can come up with but only succeeds in catching some small eels. In a pretty creepy segment of the episode Wade dives into the murky depths of Loch Ness and finds it cold, lifeless, and black. It turns out that Loch Ness doesn’t have the amount of prey fish it takes to support a large monster fish. Wade checks out some other possibilities but comes up empty. He abandons Loch Ness and heads of to Iceland and Norway in search of Viking legends about monster fish. This episode sadly turns out to be the biggest bust of the series. He is neither able to find Nessie nor debunk the legend.
The most intriguing part of the show is when Wade interviews local fisherman Alex Sutherland who says that there is a definite presence in the Loch and mentions the theory that Nessie is the kelpie, which is a water fairy like the mermaid. According to Celtic folklore, the kelpie, or water horse, haunts Scotland’s lochs. The kelpie looks like a horse with with smooth skin like a seal’s. There are many versions of the kelpie legend, but one thing that stays constant in fairy lore is that, like other fairies, they can shape shift. One popular legend is similar to some mermaid legends in which a kelpie appears as beautiful women to lure men to their deaths. The kelpie is said to be able to create illusion in order to camouflage themselves so they would not be able to be found unless they wish it.
The “Legend of Loch Ness” episode of “River Monsters” repeats Thursday, May 30 at 8 p.m., and again at 11 p.m. on Animal Planet.
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