Does the Loch Ness Monster Exist? These Scientists Found Out

Cheryl Sanders
September 6, 2019

Tales of sightings of the mythical creature known as the Loch Ness Monster have captured imaginations for centuries but the invention of photography saw speculation mount and rumours gain momentum.

"In fact, we would have got more publicity out of just saying we'd decided not to do anything at Loch Ness than all of the other work my team had done put together - it was insane", he told the Herald last month.

The DNA from those samples was extracted and sequenced, resulting in around 500 million sequences that were analysed against existing databases. The aim of the research was not to find Nessie, but to improve knowledge of what plants and animals live in Loch Ness.

There was additionally no eDNA indicating the presence of giant catfish or sturgeons, or of Greenland sharks, all of which have been put forward as monster candidates.

Professor Neil Gemmell on his boat as he conducts research into the DNA present in the waters of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands Scotland
Professor Neil Gemmell on his boat conducting research into the DNA present in the waters of Loch Ness

European eels can grow up to 5 feet, according to the USGS.

Gemmell's team took advantage of "environmental DNA", the genetic material that creatures leave in their surroundings. "So I think we can be fairly sure that there is probably not a giant scaly reptile swimming around in Loch Ness".

Loch Ness is the largest and second-deepest body of fresh water in the British Isles.

The DNA project found no evidence to support the notion that the monster is a long-necked ancient reptile called a plesiosaur (PLEE'-see-uh-sawr). "Eels are very plentiful in Loch Ness, with eel DNA found at pretty much every location sampled - there are a lot of them".


But he can't rule out the possibility of a giant eel.

The data doesn't reveal the size of the eels shedding their DNA into the loch, but the whole idea is not without precedent.

He was philosophical about the study findings, and believed no matter what science said, there would always be a belief in the Loch Ness monster.

The 43-year-old said: 'During my gap year, I was 18, it was a wild year, ' before Edwina interjected: 'It was a whiskey tour, and it was by the Loch!'


Gary Campbell, keeper of a register of Nessie sightings, receives on average 10 reports a year of something unexplained being spotted in the loch's waters. Last year, he said, the scientists' work at Loch Ness generated about 3,000 media stories within a few weeks - before they'd made a single finding.

Scientists have delivered disappointing news today to fans of the Loch Ness Monster.

Tourists take a cruise aboard the "Nessie Hunter" boat on Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands.

The most recent attempt was three years ago when a high-tech marine drone found a monster - but not the one it was looking for. It inspires books, TV shows and films, and sustains a major tourism industry around its home.


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