Every university has its legends. At Clayton State University, the most famous is the Legend of Loch.
It all started in the winter of 1969, when the construction crews were digging to make room for the dam at the far end of what would become the Clayton State campus’ Swan Lake. Deep below the surface they discovered what was initially thought to be a large piece of rock. But, it wasn’t, it was actually a large chunk of ice.
Work resumed, and the huge ice block was left lying off to the side. However, returning to the dam after their lunch break, the workers were astonished to find the ice had split in two, exposing a large hollow within the ice, as if something had hatched from within. Although questions like, “what had been let loose?” began to surface, nothing more was heard or seen for some 20 years.
Then, in 1990, the Office of Public Safety was doing some filming on campus and saw on tape a large, shadowy creature walking amongst the trees and disappearing into the lake. This generated a while new series of questions, notably, what animal could walk upright and then live underwater as well?
The answer, of course, turned out to be Loch, who has been a legend on campus, in several different iterations and generation, ever since. Most of Loch’s many sightings have been at soccer and basketball games, as well as other official university student functions.
However, as recently as September 2009, there have been other mysterious sightings of a large aquatic creature in Swan Lake. And, no, it’s not a swan, and it’s not a goose. The aforementioned instance involved University Relations Photojournalist Erin Fender doing some investigative reporting on a large creature that had been seen off and on for several weeks, usually skimming on top of the water. Fender eventually captured the creature’s image, thus avoiding a potential controversy ala Loch’s namesake in Scotland.
That photo was studied by Clayton State’s resident expert on aquatic biology, Dr. Christopher Kodani, who pronounced the creature to be a large grass carp. Ah, but new evidence (see Fender’s attached photo from earlier this week) has recently surfaced (so to speak), leading Kodani to re-think his evaluation. His latest theory is… it’s a NEW Loch.
“There must be something that brought it here,” he says. “With Valentine’s Day coming up, perhaps Loch is here trying to find a suitable mate? If not for a mate, then perhaps a need for food brought Loch to Clayton State, a need which would hopefully be satiated by a visit to the Lakeside Dining Hall in the Baker Center. Or, if Loch isn’t feeling well, maybe it’s just looking for University Health Services.”
Whatever the motive, Kodani feels quite certain that there’s new Loch on campus, one that’s just waiting to be discovered. Given this expert opinion, Fender has been back on the trail of Loch with her trusty Nikon, attempting to get to the bottom of, if not Swan Lake, the new Loch. While Fender continues to investigate, and the Office of Public Safety also keeps an eye out for new sightings, Kodani is trying to unravel the puzzle scientifically.
“There could be many scientific hypotheses to explain Loch,” he poses. “Is there a mom and dad Loch somewhere; perhaps he’s an international student from Japan; we all know his famous cousin, Godzilla.”
If, on the other hand, Loch is not related to the famous Japanese fire-breathing dinosaur, Kodani has some other theories.
“It’s unlikely that the primordial ooze at the bottom of Swan Lake gave him life; too much antifreeze running off from the parking lots, and living things tend to come from other living things,” he points out. “Clearly, such a large animal must be a vertebrate, and maybe he evolved from fish or amphibians — due to mutations caused by the fluids leaking from faculty cars!
“Maybe the reptilian Loch even evolved from the swans and geese — an example of how ancient, hidden genes sometimes express themselves, as is seen in the occasional three-toed horse or the recently discovered dolphin that has hind legs! Or, was Loch a science experiment gone horribly awry; the subject of an evil scientist who was trying to genetically engineer a super student who could actually pass the upper division science classes!”
This last theory has some logic, especially since Kodani also speculates that perhaps the experiment in question succeeded!
In any case, investigative work on the new Loch is on-going. A new email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, has been set up to report any new sightings, so stay tuned for further information. Speculation has it that the new Loch may be waiting for Clayton State’s Homecoming (Feb. 18) to make an official appearance.