There?s an old saying among scientists, and it goes like this: Never follow a schmuck who gets worked up about impertinent biological propaganda and then writes about it in the newspaper.
I might have made that up, but after this column there probably will be a saying like that.
Last week, as the AARP-card-wielding population mourned the passing of Shirley ?Animal Crackers In My Soup? Temple, I was wallowing in my own world of sorrow after reading this headline: ?Is the Loch Ness monster dead??
The creature affectionately known as Nessie?though cryptozoologically classified as Monstrum Nessa for at least the last 92 seconds?has been making appearances in the Scottish Highlands freshwater lake since A.D. 565 (give or take a decade). She rose to notoriety in 1933 when a blotchy black-and-white photograph became plastered on every single piece of merchandise imaginable at the Loch Ness Pub ?N Gift Shop (motto: ?It might be a log, err, but come drink our lager?).
And so the sightings continued for the next nearly 90 years. Much like that last sentence.
But then, about a year and a half ago, the reports stopped. The BBC interviewed a Gary Campbell about this, who is described as ?a veteran custodian of Loch Ness monster sightings.? What the BBC fails to make clear is whether this is actually his occupation, or just some sort of perverse hobby akin to serving arsenic to lonely old men and stowing them in the window seat.
In the past 17 years, Campbell has collected a list of Nessie reports that goes back about 1,500 years.
?It?s very upsetting news and we don?t know where she?s gone,? Campbell told the BBC. ?The number of sightings has been reducing since the turn of the century but this is the first time in almost 90 years that Nessie wasn?t seen at all.?
There are apparently no reports of impending romantic endeavors surfacing for Campbell, either.
The article goes on to explain that ?if (the Loch Ness monster) exists there must be more than one in the lake, at least dozens if not hundreds? in order for the creature to continue appearing decade after decade.
And, following that logic, if the appearances suddenly cease, there can only be one explanation: ?Extinction is the only reason that large animals simply vanish like that.?
You may be thinking, ?But Nessie is only a myth!? And then to you I have but two words: Giant squid.
For centuries, rugged sailors spun tales of a gigantic octopus-like monster that haunted the seas. The mysterious creature gave rise to the Kraken, the legendary sea monster said to dwell in the icy waters of Norway and Greenland.
Simply a myth? A plausible explanation. That is, until earlier this century when scientists actually began photographing (2004), capturing (2006) and filming (in its natural habitat, 2012) live giant squid, the females of which can grow to a length of 43 feet.
This inevitably (and with reckless abandon) leads me to my point: If mythical creatures can in fact be real, how many more Nessies must we lose before true effort is finally made to find and preserve them?
Bigfoot is the ape-like monstrosity that roams every corner of this globe. The chupacabra is named the Spanish word for ?goat sucker? and terrorizes Latin America. Donald Trump?s current hair is made up of a substance that does not exist anywhere else on this planet.
The list goes on.
The shadows in the waves and inhabitants of our night?mares may be very real. And so if that giant lake in Scotland has taught us anything by now, it is that we should be taking Ness-essary action.