One of the most iconic images of Nessie is known as the ‘Surgeon’s Photograph’, which many formerly considered to be good evidence of the monster. Its importance lies in the fact that it was the only photographic evidence of a “head and neck” – all the others are humps or disturbances.The image was revealed as a hoax in 1994.
Supposedly taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson, a London gynaecologist, it was published in the Daily Mail on 21 April 1934. Wilson’s refusal to have his name assoiciated with the photograph lead to the moniker “Surgeon’s Photograph.”The photo is often cropped to make the monster seem huge, while the original uncropped shot shows the other end of the loch and the monster in the centre. The ripples on the photo fit the size and circular pattern of small ripples as opposed to large waves when photographed up close. Analyses of the original uncropped image have fostered further doubt.
In 1979 it was claimed to be a picture of an elephant. Other sceptics in the 1980s argued the photo was that of an otter or a diving bird, but after Christian Spurling’s confession most agree it was what Spurling claimed – a toy submarine with a sculpted head attached. The details of how it was done have been given in a book. Essentially, it was a toy submarine with a head and neck made of plastic wood, built by Christian Spurling, the son-in-law of Marmaduke Wetherell, a big game hunter who had been publicly ridiculed in the Daily Mail, the newspaper that employed him. Spurling claimed that to get revenge, Marmaduke Wetherell committed the hoax, with the help of Chris Spurling (a sculpture specialist), his son Ian Marmaduke, who bought the material for the fake Nessie, and Maurice Chambers (an insurance agent), who would call to ask surgeon Robert Kenneth Wilson to offer the pictures to the Daily Mail. The hoax story is disputed by Henry Bauer, who claims this debunking is evidence of bias, and asks why the perpetrators did not reveal their plot earlier to embarrass the newspaper. He also claimed that plastic wood did not exist in 1934, although it was a popular DIY and modelling material in the early 1930s.