"I had been searching for Nessie on and off for the past few weeks, spending an hour or so a week on Google Earth as well as other places I like to visit in the app. I had seen some of the latest Nessie sightings and thought that I can definitely find a better image of her than that which I used for motivation to challenge myself to find her. On the 13th at 9.45am, I had got my daughter off to school and began to search for Nessie when I noticed a cluster of pictures taken by an Underwater Earth Contributor all in one area near the Loch Ness Highland Resort in Fort Augustus. I noticed what I believe may be the creature known as Nessie – or at the very least what makes up for most of the accounts of Nessie sightings that residents/tourists are seeing and reporting.”
Real or not, the Loch Ness Monster brings in $54 million to the Scottish economy each year, an increase of $14.4 million from four years ago. The data comes from accountant Gary Campbell who also happens to be the official keeper of the Nessie sightings register. From the UK Press and Journal:
“We analysed the number of people that visit the attractions around the loch, along with those who took to the water to try to get a closer look for Nessie and then took other research into tourism spend on overnight accommodation and food,” said Mr Campbell.
“We then added in the day trippers and from this we conservatively estimate that the draw of the monster is adding £40.7m to the local economy each year...."
The research has been endorsed by tourism ambassador and director of Loch Ness Marketing, Willie Cameron.
“From my perspective and from the numbers and spend we see at the loch, I’d say that this is a very conservative estimate but at over £40m per annum, it shows that Scotland’s rural economy can make a significant contribution to the health of the overall Scottish economy,” he said.
In 2001, the Scottish Natural Heritage drew up a plan of action if the Loch Ness Monster were ever to be found. The code-of-practice is in the news again due to a a recent big effort to collect skin and scale samples from Loch Ness and compare those DNA sequences against known animals. From the BBC News:
It stipulates that a DNA sample should be taken from any new creature, and then it should be released back into the loch...
Nick Halfhide, of SNH, an organisation that promotes Scottish wildlife and natural habitats, said the 17-year-old code of practice remained relevant today.
He said: "There was a lot of activity on the loch at the time about Nessie.
"So, partly serious and partly for a bit of fun, we drew up a contingency plan about how we would help Nessie if and when she was found."
Mr Halfhide said: "Some of the lessons we learned then have been relevant when we have reintroduced species like sea eagles, and were used when, a couple of years ago, four new species were found in the sea off the west coast."
For more than a century there have been reports of a strange sea "monster" living in Loch Ness yet hard evidence is, er, lacking. Now, evolutionary biologist Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago is hoping that DNA testing could perhaps shed some light on what people claim is Nessie. For two weeks, Gemmell and his team will collect skin and scale samples from Loch Ness and compare those DNA sequences against known animals. Here's what Gemmmell told the BBC News:
"I don't believe in the idea of a monster, but I'm open to the idea that there are things yet to be discovered and not fully understood. Maybe there's a biological explanation for some of the stories."
"While the prospect of looking for evidence of the Loch Ness monster is the hook to this project, there is an extraordinary amount of new knowledge that we will gain from the work about organisms that inhabit Loch Ness - the UK's largest freshwater body..."
"There is this idea that an ancient Jurassic Age reptile might be in Loch Ness. If we find any reptilian DNA sequences in Loch Ness, that would be surprising and would be very, very interesting."
Steve Feltham has been camped at Loch Ness for 25 years keeping a constant vigil for Nessie. He seems like a delightful happy mutant doing exactly what he wants with his life.
"Some people think it's a giant eel," Feltham says. "Some people think there's a rip in time. Others believe there's a spaceship on the bottom of the Loch. It's more likely to turn out to be a big catfish."
Cruise Loch Ness has just commissioned construction of a £1.4 million custom catamaran that can take more than 200 passengers on a quest for Nessie. According to the company, purchase of the new vessel was driven by a big, er, swell in Chinese tourists at Loch Ness. From The Scotsman:
The specially-designed catamaran boasts superior features such as monster-sized windows on the main deck, to optimise ‘Nessie’ spotting opportunities. Meanwhile the upper deck will be open at the sides, but covered above, meaning passengers won’t be forced to come inside in bad weather. Toilets and a bar will feature on the main deck.
The vessel will be powered by a pair of Volvo D9 MH main engines. Producing 313kW per side, these powerful engines are capable of propelling the vessel to speeds over 20 knots, whilst being extremely fuel-efficient at the same time.
Oh, I'm sure that if Nessie does exist, it would certainly choose to frolick around this hulking beast speeding through the water.