The biggest search for the Loch Ness Monster in 50 years is under way as “incredibly excited” hunters hope to get closer to finding out what the mythical creature is.
The newly revamped Loch Ness Centre has teamed up with Loch Ness Exploration (LNE), an independent and voluntary research team, to carry out the hunt, which takes place over Saturday and Sunday.
The centre has called on those with a fixation on finding the Scottish creature to get involved, with boats running from 10am to 6pm on both days and 17 different spotting locations around the loch, where volunteers can come down to keep an eye on proceedings.
For Megan Rough, a marketing executive for the Loch Ness Centre this weekend, the search for “Nessie” has left her and the rest of the team “incredibly excited”.
She told the PA news agency: “When the call went out for volunteers for the quest weekend, which has been happening since early this morning – 8.30am – and won’t finish until 6pm this evening, we did not anticipate how much enthusiasm it would generate.
“We’ve had people emailing us from Australia, from New Zealand, from Canada, America and all across Europe.
“There’s so much love for Nessie out there that we just didn’t realise existed and it’s really amazing to see this bring so many people together.”
She said boats going up and down the loch have been “full”, and the centre has been receiving emails and Facebook messages from people sharing their findings, who can watch the hunt via livestream cameras.
Surveying equipment that has never been used on Loch Ness before will make an appearance, including hydrophones, which will help to detect acoustic signals under the water.
“What we are doing this weekend is using hydrophones, combined with sonar equipment, which beams light down to the bottom of the loch and then throws back up images of what lie beneath,” Ms Rough said.
“I went out on one of the boats this morning – if you pass over anything, the skipper on the boat (Alistair Matheson) was able to demonstrate how this technology works and anything, whether it be small or large, will be captured by this sonar imaging equipment.”
She added that overnight, thermal imaging drones are to fly over the loch, which will create a heat map to what lies beneath the water.
Asked why many are drawn to the mythical creature, she said: “I believe it’s firstly the mystery.
“And secondly, the fact that Nessie seems to be a truly polarising subject, even for the thousands of people that believe in Nessie, they can’t agree on what they actually think Nessie is.
“There isn’t enough conclusive evidence to point us in any one direction and that’s why this weekend is so exciting because we just don’t know what we’re going to find and perhaps we will be able to find something that then leads us that little bit closer to determining what the Loch Ness Monster is.”
Ms Rough said it is “special” that the hunt has started from the Loch Ness Centre, which is located at the old Drumnadrochit Hotel, because that is where the first sighting of the mythical creature happened in the 1930s.