Scotland’s most famous legend… may not remain a mystery for much longer. A new Loch Ness Centre at the famous lake in the Scottish Highlands is promising to unleash the biggest search for “Nessie” in over half a century. And visitors can join in the quest!
Nessie may be the biggest attraction in the Scottish Highlands that no one can prove they’ve ever seen.
Reports of a monster in the dark, murky depths of Loch Ness – the largest lake in volume in Great Britain, measuring 23 miles long and 755 feet deep - date back to ancient times, with the earliest written account dating from the 6th century.
But the advent of mass media in the early 20th century – and new photographic ‘evidence’ of a creature in the murky depths of one of Scotland’s biggest lakes - made Nessie a worldwide sensation that’s never diminished since.
Now, a new Loch Ness Centre has opened at the area’s former Drumnadrochit Hotel, where hotel manager Mrs. Aldie MacKay reported in 1933 seeing a 'whale-like fish' or 'water beast' in Loch Ness. Her sighting revived ancient legends and created a modern monster frenzy – especially when it was spurred on by a blurry photo taken of a Loch Ness ‘Monster’ only a few months later.
The new Loch Ness Centre gives guests a ‘deep dive’ into millions of years of Loch Ness history, geology, and Loch Ness Monster lore, artifacts, sightings and science.
Visitors can even get out on the waters of Loch Ness themselves on the vessel ‘Deepscan’ to search the depths of the loch yourself with sonar equipment – with the beautiful Urquhart Castle in the background.
In fact, the weekend of August 26-27, 2023, the Centre is undertaking what it says is the biggest comprehensive search for the Loch Ness Monster for 50 years, when the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau made a comprehensive study of the loch’s depths. And volunteers can join the quest.
The ‘all-in’ search for the secrets of Loch Ness includes thermal drones using infrared cameras to observe warm objects beneath the surface, and even a hydrophone to detect acoustic signals underwater, where Nessie may be emitting sounds.
Although the Highlands are abuzz with excitement about the newest comprehensive Nessie search, with people flocking to join in the quest, if you didn’t make it, you may get another chance to crack the mystery. It’s unlikely the debate over whether Nessie really exists will be solved in just one more intensive weekend.
Some dismiss the very possibility of a Loch Ness Monster altogether, but theories have been put forward that there may be a very real explanation for the centuries of supposed sightings.
- A Plesiosaur or other prehistoric creature: Some believe that Nessie might be a relic from the age of the dinosaurs, specifically a plesiosaur, which somehow survived to the present day in the cold, deep waters of the loch.
- A large fish or eel: Others speculate that the sightings might be of large eels or fish that live in the loch.
- Optical illusions or misidentifications: Waves, floating debris, or boat wakes can create shapes on the water's surface that might have been misinterpreted as a large creature.
- And, gasp! Hoaxes: Over the years, several photographs and videos claiming to be of the Nessie have been exposed as fakes.
But some recent scientific investigations have offered some new insights behind the legend:
- Sonar: Various sonar explorations of Loch Ness have detected large, unexplained objects moving underwater – but none proven to be a living creature, let alone a “monster.”
- DNA: In 2019, scientists conducted a large-scale environmental DNA survey of Loch Ness. It didn't find evidence of a large reptile, let alone dinosaur, but it did suggest that the loch contains a significant amount of eel DNA. This may support the theory that large eels might account for at least some of the sightings.
The legend of the Loch Ness Monster continues to captivate visitors from around the world to Scotland and remains an enduring mystery, one you can get closer to at a new centre that celebrates Nessie and keeps the search going.
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