Loch Ness Monster: Expert thinks 'giant' eel could be Nessie
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The Loch Ness Monster , or ‘Nessie’ as it is affectionately known, is said to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. Typically described as a large, long-necked reptile-like creature, there has been worldwide interest in Nessie since the Thirties when the first ‘photographs’ began to emerge. Yet the earliest report of an apparent monster in the 36.3km -long Loch dates back to 565 AD.
In Adomnán’s book the ‘Life of St Columba’, the Irish monk claimed to have encountered a “water beast” that killed a man in the River Ness after mauling and dragging him underwater.
Columba sent Luigne moccu Min, one of his followers, to find the creature.
Upon finding the beast, Luigne made the sign of the cross and said: “Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once.”
The creature stopped and turned away.
Popular interest in Nessie ramped up in 1933 with a reported sighting published in the Inverness Courier.
The report described the waters of Loch Ness “cascading and churning” amid the presence of a whale-like creature.
Perhaps the most famous Nessie ‘photo’, however, came the following year in 1934.
The Daily Mail published a front page image, known as the ‘Surgeon’s Photo’, of a long-necked creature emerging from the water.
Some 60 years later this was confirmed as a hoax, and the “monster” was in fact a toy submarine bought from Woolworths, with a head made from wood putty.
Despite this, tourists have flocked to Loch Ness in their thousands in an optimistic attempt to catch a glimpse of Nessie.
A team of international scientists offered what they believe to be a “plausible theory” as to what the Loch Ness monster could be.
By extracting DNA from water samples, Professor Neil Gemmell and his team from the University of Otago found no evidence that Nessie could be a prehistoric marine reptile that had previously been touted as a possible explanation.
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They found more than 3,000 species of animal in Loch Ness, some so small the human eye cannot identify them.
He said in 2019: “We can’t find any evidence of a creature that’s remotely related to that in our environmental-DNA sequence data.
“So, sorry, I don’t think the plesiosaur idea holds up based on the data that we have obtained.”
He continued: “There is a very significant amount of eel DNA. Eels are very plentiful in Loch Ness, with eel DNA found at pretty much every location sampled – there are a lot of them.”
Prof Gemmell and his team’s data did not reveal the size of the eels, and with divers previously claiming to have seen eels as thick as their legs in the loch, he refused to discount their claims.
He noted: “Whether they are as big as around four metres, as some of these sightings suggest, well, as a geneticist I think about mutations and natural variation a lot, and while an eel that big would be well outside the normal range, it seems not impossible that something could grow to such unusual size.”
Adding fuel to the fire for some Nessie hunters, Prof Gemmell admitted 20 percent of the DNA was returned “unidentified”, but he stressed “there is probably not a giant scaly reptile swimming around Loch Ness.”
Prof Gemmell’s findings have not seen Nessie hunters give up hope, with a sonar probe discovering a mystery creature in the darkest depths of Loch Ness.
Ronald Mackenzine, who runs Cruise Loch Ness, captured startling images at the bottom of the loch which sonar manufacturers describe as “15-20ft long and a single creature”.
Mr Mackenzie said: “There is no way it’s a very large salmon.”
On Mr Mackenzie’s findings, Nessie expert Steve Feltham told the Daily Record last year: ““I definitely think Nessie is an animal.
“I think we are getting closer to finding the answer.”
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