'Very excited' as biggest hunt for Loch Ness Monster in decades kicks off
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The world's press have descended on the shores of Loch Ness for the first day of this weekend's giant Loch Ness Monster hunt.
The Loch Ness Centre is supporting Loch Ness Exploration (LNE), an independent and voluntary research team, and Visit Inverness Loch Ness, to search the famous waters of Loch Ness and uncover its mysteries.
Live streaming the waters from 17 different locations the giant surface watch is focussing as many eyes as possible on the waters for any signs of breaks, inexplicable movements or – possibly – sightings.
It is the biggest event of its kind since the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau (LNIB) studied the loch back in 1972.
Amateur monster hunters can follow the action via the Visit Inverness Loch Ness website.
Briefing the world's press and hunt volunteers at the Loch Ness Centre in Drumnadrochit this morning Alan McKenna of Loch Ness Exploration was delighted to see plans for the hunt start to unfold.
"We're very excited to be here today," he said. "We understand that the weather is not perfect but that is not going to stop us."
"This has not been done for a long, long time. The fact there are so many volunteers speaks volumes about how important this mystery is to everybody. You can be a believer, you can be a sceptic, it does not matter. This operation is for everybody."
And he added: "We are not just here for the Loch Ness Monster – of course that's who we'd love to find – but it's also about understanding thee loch's natural behaviour and the way it moves...
"It's going to be a great couple of days."
Messages to the Loch Ness Centre and LNE social media accounts about the hunt have been coming in from all over the world including the USA, Argentina and New Zealand.
One Nessie enthusiast, Marcello Baretta, from Italy, took the opportunity to share a special memory of a previous visit to Scotland.
"I am new here and I've been intrigued with Loch Ness mystery for all my life," he posted.
"I visited the loch when I was a child, in year 2000, and I picked up some water as memory. It's still possible to see the typical peat on the bottom of the bottle, the same peat that makes the water of the loch so dark and hard to explore with cameras. I'll follow this new research with great interest!"
During the hunt, thermal drones will also be deployed to produce images of the water from the air using infrared cameras, and a hydrophone will be used to detect acoustic signals under the water, listening for any Nessie-like calls.
There will also be four Premium Deepscan cruises over the weekend with a member of the original Loch Ness Investigation Bureau and Mr McKenna.
The Loch Ness Centre has also organised a special tour giving participants the chance to view real artefacts, and find out more about scientific debates, eyewitness accounts and recorded sightings.