Cryptid History: The Great Loch Ness Monster Prank of 1972
On March 31st and April 1st, 1972, a prank was pulled on a team of eight scientists from Yorkshire, England who were in Scotland to investigate - as well as try to capture - the infamous Loch Ness Monster. They had developed a new hormone bait that they were sure would lure the creature to the surface and into their waiting traps.
Early in the morning while the research team was meeting for breakfast, a large body was reported to be floating within the Loch. The hotel at which the men had gathered (the Foyers House Hotel) was promptly called, and as soon as they heard the news, the team threw down their forks, packed up their gear, and raced off towards the water in order to see the body for themselves. Upon arrival to the area in which the large mass was floating, the team instantly realized the creature was dead and made quick work of tying it up with rope and hauling it back to shore. News of the captured creature spread spread like wildfire amongst the locals and the excitement was at an all time high as the team raced back to shore to an eager crowd gathering at the waters edge in order to see the legendary monster with their own eyes.
As quickly as the news spread around the town of Foyers, it also began to spread across the world via television and newspaper. News anchors burst onto screens reporting that the Loch Ness Monster was real and that its corpse had been discovered and pulled from the loch. Witnesses who were on the shore claimed that what they had seen was a true monster. Some said it was nearly 18ft long with green skin and large protruding teeth, others said it was covered in scales, had an absolutely massive head, and appeared to weigh nearly 2 tons. A man by the name of Robert MacKenzie even managed to stick his hand in the monsters mouth and feel its teeth. The young man said the creature looked like a mix between a bear and a seal, it head a head on it that looked exactly like a bears except the ears were flat.
The body was quickly loaded up into the research teams truck and was set to be taken back to Yorkshire for study. But the team was immediately stopped by police due to a 1933 Act of Parliament that prohibited the removal of any unknown and unidentified creatures from Loch Ness. Intrigued by what the monster truly looked like and letting their curiosity begin to get the better of them, the police officers had team leader Terence O’Brien open the back of the truck. In their officially report of the incident, the officers involved stated that what they had seen was quite large in size, covered in scales, and green.
After being restricted from leaving Scotland, the truck was then diverted to the nearby town of Dunfermline to be studied by more eager scientists and zoologists, this time from Scotland. After the examination was complete, the monster was identified, it came as a surprise though that it was not an unknown beast but rather a known species. The monstrous beast before them was nothing more than a scientifically recognized elephant seal. The once great mood of excitement turned to embarrassment for the original eight member team from England. But the accurate identification brought forth another question that none could answer at that time, what was a dead elephant seal doing in Loch Ness?
Turns out it was put there by a 23yr old zoo employee who worked with the eight member team in Yorkshire named John Shields. After an expedition to the Falkland Islands (South America) had managed to bring back an elephant seal to the Dudley Zoo, Shields got word that the creature was quickly failing in heath and would be dead in its new habitat soon. Knowing that an expedition of Loch Ness would soon be taking place - and not wanting to miss out on a good April Fools joke - Shields requested to take the body after death and keep it in a deep freezer until needed.
After the untimely demise of the large seal, Shields shaved off its whiskers, filled its cheeks with rocks to puff them up, and kept it on ice until he could have it delivered to the Loch without being caught. With everything going according to plan and successfully getting the seal to Scotland, Shields had the body dumped into the water and calmly made an anonymous phone call to the Foyers House Hotel. The prank played out exactly as he had hoped and the rest is history.
So, are you are curious as to how big this elephant seal body was that caused so many people to go nuts? I bet you are, so let me tell you. The body of the seal was only 9ft long and weighed approximately 350lbs. It had no scales or green skin and was not even close to the exaggerated 18ft and 4,000lbs. Just goes to show you how so much excitement in the heat of the moment can sway ones perception and memories of a notable event.
-The Pine Barrens Institute
*Image Credit: http://hoaxes.org/archive/display/category/loch_ness_monster