Hundreds of volunteers have joined the biggest search for the elusive Loch Ness Monster in 50 years this weekend.
Despite no appearance from Nessie herself yet – unexplained sounds have been logged near the beast’s ‘favourite’ Scottish haunt.
The Loch Ness Centre and the Loch Ness Exploration, an independent research team, will scour the waters for the beast using drones with infra-red cameras and underwater detectors.
Volunteers will help to record any natural and unusual sights on Loch Ness from vantage points on land. It comes just days after a holidaymaker claimed to have spotted a ‘black shape’ in the water.
On Saturday and Sunday, scientists and volunteers will scan the waters in the biggest search since the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau studied the loch back in 1972.
Nessie hunters have been sharing pictures of themselves looking out for the famed beast this weekend
Hundreds of volunteers have joined the biggest search for the elusive Loch Ness Monster in 50 years. Pictured: A shape believed to be the monster which is now thought to be a hoax
Today and tomorrow, scientists and volunteers will scan the waters in the biggest search since the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau studied the loch back in 1972. Pictured: An aerial view of Loch Ness
Throughout the weekend, eagle-eyed members of the public will be tasked with keeping a close watch over the loch for any breaks in the water, movements, or even a rare sighting of the famous inhabitant. Pictured: Another Nessie hunter looks out for the beast
The plan is to combine new technology to scan and listen to underwater signals from Nessie while volunteers watch the surface of the water to spot any monster moves.
In spite of the lack of conclusive proof, those involved in the operation recorded four tantalising ‘unexplained sounds’ in an area said to be one of Nessie’s favourites over the years.
Ian McKenna, of Loch Ness Exploration, said of the noises, which were detected in the Urquhart Bay area: ‘They were picked up by hydrophones yesterday when we were setting up the equipment and there were four distinct sounds. We can’t say it was Nessie – just that they are unexplained.’
The Loch Ness Centre is located at the old Drumnadrochit Hotel, where it is said manageress Aldie Mackay reported seeing a ‘water beast’ in Loch Ness 90 years ago.
Nessie hunters want to solve the age-old mystery once and for all. But, if the famed beast is not found, the Loch Ness Centre hope to at least inspire ‘a new generation of monster hunters’ to carry on the search.
Throughout the weekend, eagle-eyed members of the public will be tasked with keeping a close watch over the loch for any breaks in the water, movements, or even a rare sighting of the famous inhabitant.
The search involved 200 volunteers near the loch, with a further 300 people providing virtual assistance online while media have flown in from around the world, with camera crews on site from Japan and the US.
Surveying equipment that has never been used on Loch Ness will be utilised to uncover the secrets of the mysterious waters.
Drones using infrared cameras will capture thermal images from the water, and a hydrophone will detect acoustic signals – such as Nessie-like calls – from under the surface.
But, for those who cannot make it to the shores of the loch, several cameras have been set up, meaning people from all over the world can take part in the quest to catch a glimpse of Nessie.
Paul Nixon, general manager of the Loch Ness Centre, said: ‘The interest in our weekend of activities has been fantastic, and to see how people from all around the world are still fascinated by the story of the Loch and Nessie.
‘We want anyone in the world to be able to help, which is why we are looking for budding monster hunters from anywhere to log in to the live stream of the Loch over the weekend and see if they spot anything mysterious.
Members of the public are seen in Drumnadrochit ahead of what is being described as the biggest search for the Loch Ness Monster
Steve Valentine, 44, was left completely stunned when he saw a ‘black shape’ floating above the water as he and his family returned back to the dock while on a boat trip
Mr Valentine was on the Deepscan vessel (pictured) which can take up to 12 people out onto the water to learn about Nessie
‘We can’t wait to see what we find.’
There have been four sightings so far this year of the Loch Ness Monster – and a recently discovered cave system, that would be a ‘perfect’ lair.
The last sighting was recorded by a tourist on a boat trip.
Steve Valentine, 44, was visiting from Urmston in the Manchester area with his family when he saw something from the Deepscan boat as they were returning from a loch tour at around 1pm on August 17.
He said: ‘I just saw a black shape in the water. It was when we were returning to the dock near to Urquhart Castle. I lost sight of it when the boat turned, but managed to get a quick photo from a distance.’
Charlotte Robinson’s photo of the elusive beast has been branded the best picture in years. She had been staying at the Loch Ness Highland Lodges at Invermoriston nack in 2018 when something popped up in the water 50 feet from the bank.
Grabbing her camera, Charlotte was able to snap a picture of a blob in the water which apparently surfaced for a minute before disappearing again, reports the Mirror.
Charlotte had been on holiday with her parents Kat and Dave when the incident occurred at about 7pm one evening.
Describing the moment she came face to face with ‘Nessie’, Charlotte explained she knew there had been ‘something’ there.
She said: ‘There was something in the water about 50 feet from the shore. I took a photo. It had a neck and head was in the shape of a hook.
‘I just took what I saw. It was black – I just don’t know how far it was out of the water. I’m not good at judging distances.
‘But after about a minute it disappeared and then came back up again in a different place. It was up for less than a minute the second time.
‘I kind of believed in Nessie, but I wanted to see the proof. I always imagined her as having a long neck and flippers. I have seen something but I’m not sure what.’
The third sighting on June 15 Nessie is considered the best so far this year and was photographed by a French tourist.
Pharmacist Etienne Camel from Lyon said he and his wife Eliane were baffled by what they saw.
For around three minutes they witness a dark shape 15-20 metres (49 feet to 65 ft) long on the surface of the calm loch before disappearing.
‘It was quite strange, I am a man of science so I never believed that the Loch Ness Monster is a prehistoric animal. But when I was taking a picture I saw this long, long shadow. I called my wife over and we saw the shadow move. There were waves,’ said Mr Camel.
Charlotte Robinson at Loch Ness where she took a photo of what she thinks is the Loch Ness Monster
The grainy picture appears to show an object moving out of the grey water
Over the years there have been thousands of ‘Nessie sightings’ at Loch Ness
‘It was 15-20 metres long and was about 150 metres away. It was quite strange and then it disappeared.’
It was logged by the Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register.
Nessie expert Steve Feltham, who has set a world record for the longest vigil of looking for the Loch Ness Monster – now over 30 years long from his Dores base – said: ‘This sighting is quite interesting, the best so far this year, and is very tantalising. It is in an area of the loch where you get little speedboat activity. Clearly it is something quite large.’
It was on April 14, 1933, hotel manageress Mrs Aldie Mackay reported seeing a ‘whale-like fish’ in the waters of Loch Ness.
As she and her husband drove, she glanced out across the still calm waters of towards Aldourie Castle. There, in the water, she saw something.
Mrs Mackay’s sighting was reported in the Inverness Courier on 2 May 1933 by Alex Campbell, the water bailiff for Loch Ness and a part-time journalist.
It is widely regarded as the first ‘modern sighting’ of a monster in the loch.
In 2019, Prof Neil Gemmell, a geneticist from the University of Otago in New Zealand, trawled Loch Ness and found no evidence of plesiosaur DNA.
A holidaymaker captured incredible pictures of what looks like the Loch Ness monster from the hotel he was staying in a mile away
Hundreds of Nessie enthusiasts are gearing up to take part in the biggest organised hunt for the mysterious creature in 50 years
However, he found lots of eel DNA, and posited that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness which might be behind the Nessie sightings. Unfortunately, DNA gives no indication of size.
In 2020 startling images of a large creature inhabiting the depths of Loch Ness were captured on sonar off Invermoriston by skipper Ronald Mackenzie aboard his Spirit of Loch Ness tourist boat.
They were said to be the ‘most compelling’ evidence of the existence of a Loch Ness Monster.
It left experts astounded by the clarity of the image of an object, estimated then to be 32 feet long, hovering 62 feet above the bottom and over 500 feet down.
Leading sonar expert Craig Wallace described the sonar images as ‘very curious’ ‘large, clear and distinct contacts, all strangely near to the loch bed’ and ‘100 percent genuine’.
According to Google, there are around 200,000 searches each month for the Loch Ness Monster, and around 120,000 for information and accommodation close to Loch Ness. The monster mystery is said to be worth £30m to the region.
Irish missionary St Columba is first said to have encountered a beast in the River Ness in 565AD.
The official register has now logged 1159 sightings from records and other evidence stretching back through the centuries.