The First Known Photograph of the Loch Ness Monster

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A Brief History

On November 12, 1933, Hugh Gray took the first known photos of the Loch Ness Monster.


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Digging Deeper

Outside of maybe Bigfoot, Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster) is probably the most well-known cryptid in the English-speaking world.  Claims of the existence of this monster date back possibly as far back as to Saint Columba (December 7, 521 A.D. – June 9,  597 A.D.).  According to legend, Columba helped rescue a man from a water beast in Scotland.

Of course, humans had not yet invented photographs and so it would not be for another nearly millennium and a half until “evidence” of the monster outside of eye-witness accounts would come about.

To that end, Hugh Gray would achieve his place among the world’s most famous photographers of cryptids for his “encounter” on November 12, 1933.  After attending church, he walked along Loch Ness, eventually noticing something strange happening in the water.  He claims that a massive creature then emerged, prompting him to take pictures, only one of which actually showed “something” upon being developed.  The famous photograph shows what appears to be an elongated creature surfacing, possibly splashing about, thereby blurring the image, with possible flippers also identifiable.  On the right side of the photograph, perhaps you can see what might be a head versus a tail on the left side.

Or maybe it just shows a dog carrying a stick in its mouth making its way in the water toward the cameraman.

For better or worse, we have no definitive explanation of what is actually in that photograph, but it was only the beginning.  Throughout the 1930s and even in the present decade, more photographs and videos would emerge purportedly depicting the so-called “monster”.  During the past 80 years, others would search for Nessie using everything from sonar to submersibles and yet no irrefutable proof has yet materialized.


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Yet, we ask our readers, what do you think?  Is the photograph of Hugh Gray depicting some kind of “monster”, a dog with a stick, or something else altogether?  Please let us know in the comments below!

Historical Evidence

While many books and documentaries have been written about the subject covered in today’s article, a good starting place is the following  book:

The Great Orm of Loch Ness: A Practical Inquiry into the Nature and Habits of Water-Monsters (Paperback)


List Price: $19.95 USD
New From: $19.95 USD In Stock
Used from: $12.00 USD In Stock

Dr. Zar

Dr. Zar graduated with a B.A. in French and history, a Master’s in History, and a Ph.D. in History. He currently teaches history at multiple universities.

  • Peter Queen

    Awesome piece Mathew! Although I am a bit of a sceptic when it comes to cryptids I wouldn’t mind waking up one day with headlines stating that proof has been found.

  • Mohd Ariff Mohd Rasidi

    Did anyone notice a face (specifically a right eye and teeth) on the linked picture? I can’t visualise a dog carrying a stick though, dammit.

    • Jaime Dodds

      Look at the original picture, not the one with the tracing on it. Totally looks like a dog carrying a stick, swimming through the water straight toward the camera. The curved line going left to right looks like the stick, and it looks like what could be a yellow lab’s face. THe face is a lot lighter and more blurry than the stick. 🙂

      • Mohd Ariff Mohd Rasidi

        Ahh, I see it now. Thanks for pointing it out.

        • Jaime Dodds

          Sure! The one at the top of the page you can’t see anything with the drawing overtop, so when you go to the original, at first I was looking for the dog in the same direction as the drawing is done. Took me a second. 🙂

  • JV

    Interesting article, I can’t see the dog in the picture, but it definitely looks like a strange object.

  • Bailey DiMenna

    I remember watching an episode of Destination Truth on the SyFy channel in which they tried to find the Loch Ness monster. They failed in their attempts, but did manage to capture some interesting videos that showed something similar to the various pictures that have claimed to show Nessy. In my opinion, I believe if the monster was real, we would definitely have found it by now.

  • Alex Guthrie

    It’s too hard for me to tell what the picture actually is but I can’t imagine the monster is real.

  • Olivia K

    When I went to England, they heavily advertised tours for the Loch Ness monster. I think it is a tourist stunt.

  • Lauren Mangan

    This is probably a hoax like Bigfoot but it makes for something interesting to think about.

  • Sammi DiGeronimo

    I seriously believe that Nessie is real even though the pictures aren’t very believable.

  • Connor Lynch

    I think that lack of hard physical evidence makes debate about the reality of these photos nothing more than a squabble.

  • KR

    I think Nessie is a fun piece of folklore whether she’s real or not, and the same goes for Champ. (Because Lake Champlain has a monster too )

  • Dan Hennessey

    The Nessie is one of my all-time favorites. I even had a poster of this picture in my room when I was younger. However, I am no longer a big believer as developments of sonar technology and convincing arguments against this picture.

  • Thomas Robinson

    Though Nessie is probably made up, there are certainly questions that could be raised by the picture.

  • Salih Saritoprak

    Growing up i never stopped believing in Nessie

  • Alexa V

    The image looks like a drawing more than a photograph. I think that Nessie may be real but may actually be an extremely large fish/alligator possibly. Who knows, look at the fish that people dig up in the ocean now.

  • SK

    The picture evidence is the only thing that keeps Nessie’s legend alive.

  • N Sword

    I think the picture could potentially be real and I do believe that something lives in the Loch. I have doubts that they will ever find the creature seeing as they have not yet… but I do think there is some legitimacy to this cryptid.