London: Weeks after a call went out on Facebook for people to “storm Area 51,” the top-secret US military site in the Nevada desert that is said to hide aliens, a similar event has been organised to “find dat big boi” — the Loch Ness monster — in Scotland, setting off mild alarm bells.
The Scotland event invited people last week to storm Loch Ness — the deep, freshwater lake in the Scottish Highlands whose most fabled tenant is said to be an underwater creature.
“Nessie can’t hide from us all,” the invitation said, echoing the Area 51 event set up by a California man in June to “Let’s see them aliens” because “They can’t stop all of us.”
The Area 51 invitation, clearly a joke, drew 1.9 million RSVPs, created a worldwide meme and prompted a cool and slightly ominous response from the US Air Force, which noted that the military “tests and trains combat aircraft” in the area.
The Scottish event appeared to have also been organized out of California, and 22,000 people have RSVP’d. That prompted the Royal National Lifeboat Institution to weigh in.
For one thing, Gemma McDonald, a spokeswoman for the lifeboat institute, told CNN, “There’s really no need to ‘storm’ Loch Ness, given that it is open to the public 24/7, 365 days a year.”
For another, the Loch Ness station of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution said on its Facebook page Saturday, “With no U.S. Army involved, Loch Ness looks a little less hazardous than storming Area 51, but here we have our own set of problems.”
The lifeguards warned that storming the lake would be an ugly venture for participants: The loch is too deep and too cold — and the weather too unpredictable, according to the statement. And if the curious get into trouble, the lifeguards don’t have space on their boat to rescue visitors who may storm the lake en masse.
The narrow loch, which is 230 meters deep (750 feet), or more than twice the height of Big Ben, stretches for miles in the Glen Mor valley bisecting the Scottish Highlands. The water is 42 degrees Fahrenheit, on average, and the weather can change within minutes, with waves rising as high as 13 feet, the lifeguards said.
Some commenters on the event’s Facebook page even pointed out that the “big boi” is believed to be female.
To be sure, Loch Ness has been a prime spot for tourists wishing to see the so-called monster of myth and lore since 1933, when visitors first described seeing a creature in the water as a monster. The following year, The New York Times reported on Nessie in 55 articles, as hardly a week went by without a supposed sighting.
More recently, headlines in 2016 stirred up the myth again, after researchers found 180 meters down on the lake bed a 30-foot prop of a Loch Ness monster made for the 1970 Billy Wilder film “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.”
But fascinated by the world’s secret, inaccessible and mysterious spaces, people have come up with more places to storm. How about raiding Fort Knox while the US government was distracted? Let’s find some gold bars. And some are musing about storming the Bermuda Triangle — because “it can’t swallow all of us.”
Palko Karasz c.2019 New York Times News Service