the summer of 2004, tourists cruising Loch Ness aboard the Royal
Scot were left bewildered after what appeared to be the head and
torso of a 16ft long Pleisosaurus loomed out of the water ahead
things were not quite as they seemed! Indeed, if any of the passengers
on the boat that day had popped into the Crawley Creatures studio
during the spring of 2004 they would have known only too well
what was going on. The Channel 5 documentary, Loch Ness: The Ultimate
Experiment endeavoured to create a modern day Nessie hoax and
naturally they came to Crawley Creatures for help.
their extensive knowledge, the team were able to design and
build a 440lb animatronic model of the Loch Ness Monster. The
model, which soon became known as Lucy was moulded as a cross
between a plesiosaurus, the carnivorous marine reptile which roamed
the seas up to 200 million years ago, and the popular image of
the loch dwelling monster.
team spent 14 weeks building the model from fibreglass and polyurethane
rubber. Pneumatic air mechanisms inside the body allowed five
different movements of the head, jaw and neck. Initially, the
fake Nessie was intended to be strapped on to a miniature submarine,
but after several abortive tests, Lucy was operated by three divers
using motorised pods.
a two-week period of filming in September 2004, the fake Nessie
appeared before tourists in three locations - close to a campsite
at the southern
end of the loch; by the ruins of Urquhart Castle two miles from
Drumnadrochit, and most conspicuously in front of the cruiser
Royal Scot near its base at Fort Augustus.
of the programme are able to witness several dramatic moments
during the experiment, not least when Lucy is lost to the depths
of the Loch after a mishap on a night dive. Fortunately the diving
team are able to salvage the beast and bring her back to the surface
after sustaining little damage.
600 people witnessed Lucy during her brief stay in the Loch although
after having viewed the Ultimate Experiment they may be a little
more sceptical about the existence of the Loch Ness Monster!