Follow VisitScotland

Hunt for Nessie’s neighbours underway

Press Release   •   Jun 07, 2018 12:54 BST

VisitScotland's Chris Taylor, Loch Ness Project leader Adrian Shine, Professor Neil Gemmell and Christina Lynggaard of the Super Natural History Team

A new investigation to uncover anything unusual lurking in Loch Ness has begun.

The mission to identify what lives in the UK’s biggest by volume freshwater loch is being led by the Super Natural History team – a global group of scientists - and has been hailed by VisitScotland as an exciting venture into the mystery of Nessie.

The loch’s inhabitants could be revealed through DNA sampling techniques used by the team - who are keeping an eye out for any irregular species.

The examination involves the sampling of water, the concentration of living things from that water and the extraction of the DNA from these. The team will sample all over the loch over a two-week period to determine the types of creatures that live there.

Professor Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand leads the team which includes Adrian Shine from the Loch Ness Project who has conducted previous research on the loch, Professor Eric Verspoor, director of the Rivers and Lochs Institute at Inverness College University of Highlands and Islands (UHI), and molecular ecologist Lucio Marcello from UHI. Similar investigations are being carried out at nearby Lochs Morar, Oich and Garry as control groups that could potentially reveal Nessie’s presence in Loch Ness.

As creatures move through the loch, they leave tiny fragments of DNA through their skin, scales, feathers, fur, faeces and urine. The team is travelling the length of the loch on the Loch Ness Project’s deepwater research vessel, Deepscan, which has been provided by The Loch Ness Centre in Drumnadrochit, taking water samples from three different depths. UHI has also provided an inshore boat to help with sampling.

The environmental DNA project's base camp is at the Loch Ness Project's laboratory at The Loch Ness Centre. The samples will be sent to labs in New Zealand, Australia, Denmark,and France to be analysed and the final findings of the search will be released in early 2019.

In 2016 a 30-foot long Loch Ness Monster model as found on the loch bed during a state-of-the art sonar search by Kongsberg Maritime and supported by The Loch Ness Project and VisitScotland.

The finding was a prop from the 1970 film, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, directed by Billy Wilder and starring Robert Stephens and Christopher Lee and it is believed the model sank after its buoyant humps were removed.

Loch Ness is famous throughout the world, not only for the monster which is said to inhabit its waters, but as an area of outstanding natural beauty. Discoveries already made within its waters include: a crashed Wellington bomber from the Second World War, a 100-year-old Zulu class sailing fishing vessel and parts of John Cobb’s speed record attempt craft Crusader which crashed at over 200mph in 1952.

The Loch Ness Monster or ‘Nessie’ phenomenon is worth millions to the Scottish economy. Hundreds of thousands of visitors travel to Loch Ness and Drumnadrochit every year to catch a glimpse of the mythical monster.

Chris Taylor, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, said: “The mystery and the intrigue of the Loch Ness Monster attracts visitors from all over the world to the stunning area every year. It is exciting to welcome Professor Gemmell and his team to the loch and we will be eagerly anticipating their findings.

“While the research could provide an insight into one of the world’s most famous enigmas, it will certainly offer a closer look at all of the different creatures living in the loch.

“Tourism is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy, creating jobs and sustaining communities, so it is great to have a spotlight on Loch Ness and encourage more visitors to discover what lies beneath its depths and beyond its banks.”

Professor Neil Gemmell, of the University of Otago, said: “Scotland is dear to my heart because my mother and her family are Scottish, I’m delighted to be here to undertake our environmental DNA investigation of Loch Ness.

“It’s a place of extraordinary natural beauty. We’re delighted with the amount of interest the project has generated in the science and, monster or not, we are going to understand Loch Ness, and the life in it, in a new way.”

Adrian Shine, Leader of the Loch Ness Project, said: “The Loch Ness Project has spent over 40 years assembling species list for Loch Ness the hard way using nets and microscopes and now looks forward to comparing the results from this very elegant project. But there will be a Loch Ness Monster for as long as people want there to be.”

For more information on the project visit: www.lochnesshunters.com

Notes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by five overarching strategies: Marketing, Events, Quality and Sustainability, Inclusive Tourism, International Engagement.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to www.visitscotland.com
  • For information about business tourism in Scotland go to www.conventionscotland.com

2018 Year of Young People

  • The Year of Young People (YoYP 2018) will inspire Scotland through its young people aged 8 to 26, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally
  • Central to YoYP 2018 will be a celebratory events programme that puts young people at the heart of its development and delivery, creating new and valuable experiences for young Scots and the wider public, with links to the inaugural 2018 European Championships.
  • Over 200 young people throughout Scotland are currently being recruited to become YoYP 2018 Ambassadors. Ambassadors will ensure that people and organisations in their communities know about what’s happening and will lead on projects and activities to create events and opportunities to celebrate young people.
  • The Year of Young People will have six themes which were developed in co-production with young people themselves:
  • Participation – looking at how young people can influence public services and decisions which affect their lives
  • Education – creating a stronger role for young people in shaping their learning
  • Health and Wellbeing – supporting young people to lead healthier, active lives and have opportunities to learn about and improve their mental health and resilience
  • Equality and Discrimination – broadcasting the value of young Scots, challenging negative perceptions of young people, and supporting young people to take leading roles in challenging discrimination in all its forms.
  • Enterprise and regeneration – celebrating young people’s role in innovation, entrepreneurship and the Scottish economy as well as making Scotland a greener and more pleasant place to live
  • Culture – celebrating young people’s talent and contribution to Scottish culture and arts.
  • Further information on what’s happening and how people can get involved can be found on the new website www.yoyp2018.scot or @YOYP2018 on Twitter.