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Thursday, July 8, 1999 Published at 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK


Nessie hosts hunters

A recent Nessie sighting, part of the Loch Ness Monster Exhibition

The shores of Loch Ness play host this weekend to a major gathering of monster hunters from around the world.

Delegates from as far afield as Japan are flying to Scotland for Saturday's first formal gathering of Nessie hunters.

One of the most controversial debates will be on the famous - or infamous - Nessie photograph that became known as The Surgeon's Picture.

[ image: The best-known picture of Nessie]
The best-known picture of Nessie
This classic image taken in 1934, showing what appeared to be a long serpent-like neck and head coming out of the water, was later proved to be a hoax.

But respected US cryptozoology researcher Richard Smith will argue that the evidence used to prove the alleged hoax may be flawed.

Gary Campbell, President of the Inverness-based Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club said: "It should lead to a lively discussion.

"Richard's findings don't agree with the analysis carried out in 1994 so it might be that the surgeon's photo was real all along."

[ image: A sonar shows the steep banks of Loch Ness]
A sonar shows the steep banks of Loch Ness
The conference, "Loch Ness 1999, an International Cryptozoology Symposium", aims to find a new way forward in the search for creatures like the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti.

Mr Campbell added: "I am delighted at the numbers coming for the conference. We have delegates attending from all over the world as well as a good turn out of local people as well."

Delegates will hear from top US Bigfoot author Loren Coleman and Professor Henry Bauer or Virginia State University.

They are complemented by Edinburgh based zoologist Gordon Rutter and retired Highland detective Ian Cameron, who witnessed the longest Nessie sighting on record.

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