Published: 21/04/2017 10:07 - Updated: 21/04/2017 10:11

Where has Nessie gone?

Written byMike Merritt

There have been no recent sightings of Nessie
There have been no recent sightings of Nessie

The world’s most famous monster has gone "missing" with Nessie’s official recorder admitting he is "worried" that there has been no sightings of her for eight months.

The Home Office recently rejected a cheeky bid by a group of artists from Glasgow to grant the Loch Ness Monster permanent UK residency after Brexit.

But Gary Campbell, keeper of the Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register, said it appears Nessie has left the country already!

"We’re quite worried that there has been an eight month gap since the last sighting," said Mr Campbell.

"Last year was a record year for the 21st Century with eight sightings and then she seems to have disappeared.

"More unusually, the last sighting was of the same thing at almost exactly the same time but 12 miles apart. It’s been said that maybe the family Ness was having a domestic hence they haven’t stuck their head above water since!

"The last time this happened was four years ago but we’re hoping that with more people around for Easter, maybe someone will see something.

"There is a prize for the best sighting so maybe it’ll encourage someone to come forward - a lady from Texas won £1000 last year for taking a picture of something large and dark just under the surface.

"Nessie is seen in the winter but she’s much more common in the summer - this is why it’s unusual that nothing was seen last year after August 21.

"In that time of course someone tried to register her as an EU citizen so maybe has she headed off abroad. But seriously I am very concerned she seems to have gone missing."

Mr Campbell added: "The reason for the summer sightings is twofold - there are more people around in the summer but more importantly, there are much longer daylight hours and the weather tends to be better."

Mr Campbell said 2016 was a "fantastic" year for Nessie sightings - which he put down to the growth of smartphones and webcams.

He said two of the sightings were by webcam, including one from an online watcher in America.

"It means that there are more people than ever before are looking for Nessie - which would explain the rise in last year’s sightings," said Mr Campbell.

"In fact, you have to go back to 2000 when there were 11 sightings, for more appearances of Nessie."

The last sighting was on August 21 when Ian Campbell, a government worker from Argyll, was cycling along the west side of the loch near Drumnadrochit with his son and a family friend when he pictured two creatures in the loch about 33 feet in length just out from the shore.

On the same day a Mr Smith, visiting the area, also saw something very similar. He said that he and his son saw some dark or black shapes moving around in the water near to Urquhart castle. He estimated them to be about 800 yards away.

A visitor from the Canary Isles recorded the first sighting of last year on March 24 - by webcam. He said there were no birds or other debris around and when he refreshed the screen, the creature was gone:

Mr Campbell said: "These sightings shows the power of the web – it means that people can hunt for Nessie wherever they are in the world as long as they can log on."

Mr Campbell stressed that the majority of claimed sightings do not get included on the register - as most can be explained.

"Anything that is later proved to a hoax or can be subsequently explained is removed from the register," said Mr Campbell, 51, a chartered accountant from Inverness.

It was in 1996, Mr Campbell saw something resembling a "mini whale" - with a black shiny back - at the south end of the loch.

"I have spent the last 21 years trying to explain it," admitted Mr Campbell. "Like most sightings I only saw it for a few seconds. When I went to record it, I found there was no register, so I started one, the following May."

Since then Mr Campbell has logged 1082 sightings.

According to Google, there are around 200,000 searches each month for the Loch Ness Monster, and around 120,000 for information and accommodation close to Loch Ness. The monster mystery is said to be worth £30m to the region.

Irish missionary St Columba is first said to have encountered a beast in the River Ness in 565AD.

Among the most famous claimed sightings is a photograph taken in 1934 by Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson.

The image was later exposed as a hoax by one of the participants, Chris Spurling, who, on his deathbed, revealed that the pictures were staged.

Recently a scientist revealed his plans to DNA test the waters of Loch Ness in another bid to determine once and for all if Nessie exists.

Professor Neil Gemmell will look for traces of unusual DNA by gathering water samples from the Scottish loch before analysing them using police forensic techniques.

Professor Gemmell, of New Zealand’s University of Otago, thinks this could solve the monster mystery.

He said: "All large organisms lose cells as they move through their environment. New genomic technology is sensitive enough to pick this up and we can use comparisons to databases that span the majority of known living things.

"If there was anything unusual in the loch these DNA tools would be likely to pick up that evidence."

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