A new underwater sonar-imaging investigation into Loch Ness has uncovered the remains of a monster.
Led by Kongsberg Maritime and supported by The Loch Ness Project and VisitScotland, the mission using Munin, a state-of-the-art intelligent marine robot, has revealed new information about the elusive 230 metres deep loch, uncovering areas underwater that have never been reached before.
Within the findings, 180m down on the loch bed, Operation Groundtruth has uncovered a recognisable creature. However, although it is the shape of Nessie – it is not the remains of the monster that has mystified the world for 80 years but more one that has inhabited the loch for over half that time and is a star of the silver screen.
The finding is in fact that of a 30-foot Loch Ness Monster model from the 1970 film, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, directed by Billy Wilder and starring Robert Stephens and Christopher Lee.
It is thought the model sank after its humps were removed - the buoyancy was in the humps - never to be seen again until now.
Spoiler alert but the monster was actually a submarine in the original movie
Other findings have revealed that claims around a ‘Nessie trench’ in the northern basin of the loch made in January are incorrect, as the new, more precise underwater evidence shows that there is in fact no anomaly or abyss in the location specified.
A 27-foot long shipwreck has also been uncovered at the bottom of the Loch under this new investigation and the team is looking for more information on the origins of this boat.
The survey – the first of its kind in Scotland – has being carried out over two weeks by Kongsberg, with an analysis of findings and discoveries every day.
Loch Ness has been notoriously difficult to survey in the past due to its depth and steeply sloping side ‘walls’ consisting of hard clay and rocky outcrops.
Kongsberg used its Munin marine robot for the work, a highly accurate underwater vehicle whose operations in the past have included searches for downed aircraft, sunken vessels and marine forensic investigations.
Operating autonomously, the four metre-long device carries state-of-the-art sonars that efficiently map vast areas to depths of 1500 metres.
Craig Wallace, Subsea Applications Engineer, Kongsberg Maritime said: "Kongsberg first surveyed Loch Ness with some of the world’s first multi-beam sonar back in 1987 and have continually visited bringing the latest technology to uncover this Loch’s mysteries.
"MUNIN is the most advanced low logistic autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) in the world and is the first in the next generation AUVs from Kongsberg Maritime. Merging the cutting-edge technology from the commercial sector whilst maintaining the robust reliability from the military market, the vehicle provides insight to the loch’s depths never before imagined. The vehicle allows sonars to scan just a few metres from the loch floor, giving resolution several orders of magnitude greater than anything before."
Adrian Shine, Leader of the Loch Ness Project, said: "It is a pleasure to have Kongsberg supporting Operation Groundtruth. Because Munin can dive and navigate itself safely at great depth, it can approach features of interest and image them at extremely high resolution. We already have superb images of the hitherto difficult side wall topography and look forward to discovering artefacts symbolic of the human history of the area."
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.
It is estimated that the Loch Ness Monster or ‘Nessie’ phenomenon is worth more than £60 million to the Scottish economy. Hundreds of thousands of visitors travel to Loch Ness and Drumnadrochit every year to catch a glimpse of the monster.
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said: "Just weeks ago we launched our Spirit of Scotland campaign, and there is no destination in the country that can quite match up to the spirit of Loch Ness. No two areas around or on the water feel the same – whether it is a sense of awe at the beauty of the scenery or a feeling of anticipation at what might surface from below the waters.
"We are excited about the findings from this in-depth survey by Kongsberg, but no matter how state-of-the-art the equipment is, and no matter what it reveals, there will always be a sense of mystery and the unknown around what really lies beneath Loch Ness."