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1987: Search ends for Loch Ness monster

VIDEO : Sonar contact recorded during Nessie quest

A major sonar exploration of Loch Ness in Scotland has failed to find a monster.

Searchers on Operation Deepscan spent a week on the loch using 1-million worth of equipment to scan the lake.

The flotilla of 24 boats did pick up three sonar "contacts" shown on paper as crescent shaped marks.

They indicated something big in the waters below Urquhart castle but this could have been a seal or a group of salmon.

Project leader Adrian Shine, who has been looking for "Nessie" for many years, told the BBC: "I think if we were to get a fish on the scale that the contacts would suggest then I don't think anyone would be too dissatisfied and all those eye-witnesses would get their vindication."

Sightings

The legend of the monster dates back to the 6th century but it was not until the 1930s that the myth really took off.

In 1933, Mr and Mrs George Spicer told newspapers they saw a monster, measuring 40 to 50 ft (12 to 15 m) long, crossing the road near the loch.

"Although I accelerated quickly towards it," he said, "it had disappeared into the loch by the time I reached the spot.

"There was no sign of it in the water. I am a temperate man, but I am willing to take any oath that we saw this Loch Ness beast. I am certain that this creature was of a prehistoric species."

There have been numerous sightings since then - and numerous hoaxes.

In the 1970s, a photograph taken by Dr Robert Rhines attracted worldwide attention. It seemed to show a flipper or fin of the monster.

The creature in the photo was even given a scientific name - Nessiteras rhombopteryx by the famous naturalist Sir Peter Scott.

Published in the top journal Nature, the name meant "Ness wonder with a diamond shaped fin" however, it didn't take long for some sceptical minds to point out that the name was also an anagram - "Monster hoax by Sir Peter S".

It was later revealed that the image had been computer enhanced.

In Context
Loch Ness is world famous for sightings of "Nessie".

Most witnesses described the creature as having a long neck giving rise to the theory that there might be a prehistoric reptile - a plesiosaur - living in the lake.

Several photos of a monster in the lake have been published over the years. In 1994 the most famous of these, taken by Colonel Robert Wilson on 19 April 1934, was revealed to be a hoax.

There have been several sonar searches of the loch.

In July 2003 BBC programme-makers carried out the most extensive search yet using 600 separate sonar beams and satellite navigation technology - but found nothing.


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