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The most famous picture of the Loch Ness Monster, a grainy black and white photograph showing a long head and neck emerging from the Lake, turned out to be a hoax.
In 1993, Christian Spurling, step-son of the flamboyant movie maker and big game hunter "Duke" Wetherell, admitted he'd made the "monster" out of some plastic and tin toy submarine.
The picture (Often called the "Surgeon's Photograph," because Colonel Robert Wilson, a doctor, claimed to had taken it by the Loch in April of 1934) had withstood careful scientific examination. Monster fans had speculated that the pictures showed a plesiosaur, while skeptics said it must have been an otter head or tree trunk. Nobody seems to have suspected a toy submarine.
According to two Loch Ness researchers, David Martin and Alastair Boyd, in 1993 they'd heard Wetherell's son, Ian, had alleged that his father had faked one of the "Nessie" photographs. Since by then Ian Wetherell was dead, the two men located Ian's step-brother, Christian Spurling. Spurling, then 90, admitted he'd been approached by Duke Wetherell to build a fake monster. Construction was done with plastic wood over the conning tower of the toy submarine. The neck, estimated by some from the photograph to be over three feet high, measured 8 inches.
Duke Wetherell apparently concocted the plan as revenge upon the Daily Mail newspaper. In 1933 the Daily Mail had hired Wetherell to find the Loch Ness Monster. Soon after arriving at the lake Wetherell found strange tracks in the soft mud near the water. Plaster casts were taken and sent to the Museum of Natural History. Apparently Wetherell himself had been hoaxed because the Museum announced that the tracks were that of a baby hippo foot, probably part of an umbrella stand. The Mail was angered at Wetherell and Wetherell was embarrassed.
It was soon after this that Spurling was approached by his step-father to build the "beast." "We'll give them their monster," Duke told his son. Ian Wetherell and father took the completed device and a camera to the Loch and photographed it on a quiet bay, then sank the evidence. The undeveloped photo's were then passed to a friend of a friend, Colonel Wilson, who had them developed and sold the photo to the Daily Mail. The group was quite unprepared for the publicity the photo generated and apparently decided not to admit the hoax. The story stayed unknown for over sixty years.