Blow of no show Nessie after 90 high-profile years
Nessie failed to make an appearance last year — the first time in almost 90 years.
Despite reports of three possible encounters with the enigmatic Loch Ness Monster in 2013, none have been registered following closer scrutiny.
Gary Campbell, president of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, says two of last year’s images appear to be waves or the wake from a boat, while the third has been discounted as being a duck.
The lack of appearances has prompted betting giant William Hill to suspend its Best Nessie Sighting of The Year competition which carries a prize of £1000.
Instead, it will have a Monster Rollover competition next year with a total cash pot of £2000 for the best sightings in 2014.
Mr Campbell has now put out an appeal for people to keep their eyes peeled this year. He has checked past records and confirmed 2013 was the first year since 1925 there has not been a registered sighting.
Ironically, it coincided with the 80th anniversary of the first ‘modern’ sighting in 1933 of what became known as the Loch Ness Monster.
"There are all sorts of potential reasons — it could be a blip," speculated Mr Campbell although he maintained a major factor was the ubiquitous phone camera.
"Everyone carries a camera with them these days," said Mr Campbell, explaining that in the past, eye-witness accounts were taken at face value.
"People can now take a picture of what they see and that gives you a clear idea of what people are reporting.
"In years gone by, people rarely carried a camera. If they did, by the time they got it out and were ready for taking a photograph, whatever it was had gone. Thirty years ago, we would take people at their word.
"Nowadays, we don’t have to rely on eye-witness evidence. People are still seeing things in Loch Ness but they have much better technology."
Although the term "Loch Ness Monster" was only coined in 1933 following a report in The Inverness Courier, Mr Campbell said there were previously reported sightings of water kelpies, a supernatural water horse, in the loch.
"Pre-1933, people were not looking for a monster at all," he said. "They saw water kelpies which were less sensational. The tone was different."
Mr Campbell said there was particularly keen interest in trying to establish the existence of Nessie during the 1960s and 70s, including the establishment of the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau.
In addition to still and movie cameras postioned around the loch, the bureau had a team of mobile camera crews, sonar and carried out airbourne searches.
It closed in 1972 due to a lack of funds although interest in the Nessie enigma surged again in the 1990s.
"It is attributed to popular TV programmes such as The X-Files," Mr Campbell said. "People’s interest in strange things and paranormal increased. People became more aware of the Loch Ness Monster and started to see things."
He maintained most years there were a couple of genuine sightings in that people had seen something and did not know what it was.
Common mistakes can include boat wakes, otters, seals, deer, logs and other floating debris and even boats.
Mr Campbell maintains, however, that given the number of unexplained sightings, there is definitely something in the loch.
"Unfortunately, the only way of proving it is to have a body and no-one wants a monster washed up on the beach," he said.