Loch Ness Monster frenzy, says Robert Hardman! Numerous volunteers, military drones, solar probes, and video teams from all over the world are searching for Nessie in the largest quest in the past 50 years.
And what did they discover?The outcome was expected: Once more, Nessie was able to avoid her assailants.
Military drones with infrared cameras and new-generation sonar probes that could sweep from the tops of the waves all the way down to the pitch-black gloop 700 feet below were among the equipment Loch Ness had probably never seen before.
And it had been a very long time since there had been such a large army of detectives.
They had at least 200 people by Saturday am; some were in boats and others were standing by the shore.
To participate in what has been dubbed the largest organised hunt for the Loch Ness Monster in fifty years, people have travelled from all over the world.
By last night, the outcome was very obvious: Nessie had once more been able to avoid her pursuers.Therefore, we still have two major mysteries to be answered this morning.
First, what, if anything, lurks in Britain’s largest body of water’s depths?Second, why, 90 years after the first inconclusive “sighting,” are so many people — not just in Scotland and the rest of the UK, but all around the world — still fascinated with the legend of a Highland plesiosaur? Because more people overseas than in the UK are interested in this weekend’s search for the Loch Ness Monster.
From Fort Augustus at the bottom to Inverness at the top, foreign news crews have been scouring the entire 23-mile length of this loch.
A review of recent media coverage over the last several days finds that, for example, the Washington Post and the Sydney Morning Herald gave the story double the amount of space as the Inverness Courier.
I once saw a CNN news presenter in the United States question a scientist in New Zealand about the prospect of discovering anything. He gave it the formal thumbs down.
So why is there still a universal fascination? Then why now?Without trying to in any way cast doubt on the veracity of this weekend’s Nessie quest, officially dubbed “The Quest,” it may be worthwhile to note that the most recent expedition has not been organised by a prestigious academic organisation.
Instead, it has being managed by the marketing division of The Loch Ness Centre, a recently renovated tourist destination that is presumably eager to get as much attention as possible.
Such a thorough scientific examination would require months or even years to complete.
This one took place over two days.Who is to care?This story continues to hold my interest.
Having recently sailed the entire length of Loch Ness with my family, I can totally appreciate why.
It’s a magical place with a magical tale associated with it. What is there to dislike? The Loch Ness Centre has partnered with a nonprofit organisation called Loch Ness Exploration (LNE) to try and attract as many Nessie aficionados as they can this weekend.
They have also flocked there in large numbers, bringing with them a wide variety of technical tools, such as thermal imaging equipment.
Many more people who chose not to travel have been following everything via various webcams positioned all over the loch.
Beginning with the discovery of four strange noises close to Urquhart Castle by underwater sonar equipment, there was much excitement.
Four unique sounds were heard by hydrophones while we set up the apparatus, according to Alan McKenna of LNE.
He sheepishly admits, “We all got a little excited and ran to make sure the recorder was on and it wasn’t plugged in.”
The historic Drumnadrochit Hotel, where the modern “Nessie” phenomena began, now houses the Loch Ness Centre.
The legend’s origins date back to St. Columba, who is credited with chasing away a beast that was allegedly attacking locals on the banks of Loch Ness in AD 565.
However, it wasn’t until 1933 that the legend really started to capture people’s attention on a global scale.
Aldie Mackay, manager of the Drumnadrochit Hotel, burst into the pub one evening in April, claiming to have recently seen a “whale-like fish” while travelling from Inverness.
The Inverness Courier picked up the tale, and the sightings started to happen often after that.
‘The beast’ was occasionally sighted on land, but it was usually in the water.
Three passengers and the bus driver watched it zoom past them.
Several others, including a head gamekeeper, a skipper, and a teacher with an MA, claimed to have seen something large, dark, and slippery.
When it was implied that all he had seen was a tree stump, the piermaster at Urquhart Bay became quite incensed.
According to Alexander Ross, “No tree trunk could dash along a placid lake at 15 or 20 miles per hour.”
The Parliament received inquiries. William Anstruther-Gray, a Lanarkshire MP, demanded that the government send the Royal Air Force to help find the monster in October 1933.
The Secretary of State for Scotland, Sir Godfrey Collis, responded, “I would like to have more evidence regarding this monster before I call upon the Air Force.”
By December, there had been more than 100 sightings confirmed, and the Mail had engaged the aid of renowned African big game hunter Marmaduke Wetherell.
He went trailing along the shore and properly recorded both the footprints and “spoor” of a powerful animal.
He is a fellow of the Zoological and Royal Geographical Societies.
He described it as a four-fingered beast to this newspaper.
“I should estimate that it is a very strong, soft-footed animal that is about 20 feet long.”
I’m sure it has crocodile or hippopotamus-like breathing abilities.
After concluding that the footprints found by Wetherell were all identical, the Natural History Museum in London was less awestruck.
They appeared to have been created using a hippopotamus foot, which was then a popular design for a waste paper basket.
The mystery fizzled out for a while, but the next year a renowned London physician named Robert Wilson captured the iconic image of a long-necked serpentine monster emerging from the water.
The photograph, which was obtained by the Mail and was one of the primary exhibits for the true believers, had not been altered.
Diverse investigations occasionally discovered just enough to maintain the tale but never quite discovering enough to definitively prove it.
The seasoned BBC correspondent Nicholas Witchell has been one of the most committed Nessie trackers.
He recalls a youthful excursion when he spent two weeks camping on the coasts seeking for the monster and claims, “It’s the story which drew me into journalism.”
While still in college, he even published a book about the subject called The Loch Ness Story.
Witchell never lost interest in the subject, despite the fact that his TV career brought him all over the world, and he assisted in organising one of the most significant investigations ever.
It was known as Project Urquhart and teams from the Natural History Museum and the Freshwater Biological Association participated.
Starting in 1992, the researchers thoroughly investigated every aspect of life in the loch over the course of two years with funding from the Discovery Channel in the United States and a significant Norwegian exploration business.
They discovered a wide variety of odd things, forms, and sounds.
A monster, though?Witchell claims, “Over the years, I had been through all the sightings and had interviewed many thoroughly credible and decent witnesses.”
Of course, the plot also has a lot of adventure and romance.
But when we used exact science and thorough investigation, it became very evident that the loch lacked enough organic materials to support a predator.
I had gone there assuming there was something.
I arrived at the decision that there wasn’t.
Around the same time, the mystery behind the 1934 photos of the enigmatic serpent finally became clear.
It became out that Wetherell had thought of a means to repair his reputation after being irritated by the accusations that his tracks in the mud were false.
He created a model of a monster made out of a toy submarine among other things.
Dr. Wilson, who received credit for the image, had been persuaded to join the project as a joke.
However, all of a sudden, he realised that the situation was turning into a huge media circus and began to fear for his medical future.
With the exception of the model maker, who confessed everything in 1994, just before he passed away, all parties involved took the tale to their graves.
However, as always, none of this altered “Nessie’s” attractiveness or notoriety on a global scale.
I went my family to Loch Ness two years ago.
Over several days, we traversed the loch in a Le Boat cabin cruiser.
We anchored near Urquhart Castle for one night and Inverness for the next.
In Drumnadrochit, we ate fish and chips, while the kids played in the chilly loch.
Although we never discovered anything noteworthy underneath the waves, we nevertheless gave it our best go.
We enjoyed every second of it.
Witchell also wishes success to Alan McKenna and the new generation of Nessie-hunters.
“Full marks for maintaining the interest,” he remarks.
Whatever they discover or do not discover, there will always be that wonderful romance around Loch Ness and its mysteries.Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn