Okay, so it was a hoax.
The 1934 photograph purporting to show a monster rising out of the misty waters of Scotland’s Loch Ness was eventually revealed to be a phony, faked with a toy submarine topped with a head and neck of wood putty. Still, the legend of a monster trolling the 745-foot-deep loch — aided by rippling water, tricks of light and the occasional drifting log — has persisted for centuries. Some people still claim to be believers, most of them speculating that Nessie is a plesiosaur (a dinosaur-like aquatic reptile) that has somehow managed to survive.
You could, of course, join the hunt yourself. But if you can’t afford the airfare, Google Maps celebrated the April 21 anniversary of the famous photograph by adding Loch Ness to its catalogue of famous places. Just as Google Maps’ Street View feature gives drivers a 360-degree look at any address they’re heading to, its panoramic views of Loch Ness provide startlingly clear impressions of the lake, Urquhart Castle along the water, offering even a Nessie-eye view of what lies underwater and of what the coast would look like to an emerging plesiosaur.
Loch Ness joins a growing portfolio of Street View virtual tours, variously including photographs, panoramas, videos, drawings, explanatory text and historical timelines. Sites include the Taj Mahal, the pyramids and Great Sphinx of Giza, the Himalayas, the Great Barrier Reef (where you can feel as if you’re swimming underwater with sea turtles) and many more. To find one of these, just Google it: Type “google street view” into a search box along with what you want to see. Try it with “colosseum,” for example, or “northern lights,” or “Robben Island,” the South African prison where Nelson Mandela spent 28 years.