Vote for the best Nessie sighting of 2014
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
NESSIE is alive and well – and seems to have moved towards the northern end of Loch Ness, according to seasoned Nessie spotter Gary Campbell.
The Inverness Courier revealed earlier this year that the loch's enigmatic resident failed to put in a single appearance during 2013 – the first year for almost 90 years she had not been seen.
But Mr Campbell, who keeps the official record of Loch Ness Monster sightings, has registered five appearances in the last 12 months.
All are contenders for the Best Nessie Sighting of The Year competition which will be decided by Inverness Courier readers. The winner will receive a £2000 cash prize.
It is sponsored by betting giant William Hill which was forced to suspend the competition last year due to the dearth of appearances. The five finalists will also receive a free £50 bet on the winner of the William Hill Scottish Cup.
Mr Campbell is delighted by the legendary resident's re-appearance.
"She has come roaring back in 2014," he declared. "We have had a mix of sightings. There have been sightings on images from space while people who have lived around Loch Ness for years have given us reports of things they have not seen before."
Noting the locations of some reported sightings, he speculated whether Nessie had spent some of the time living at the northern end of the loch although he acknowledged she had a wide choice of locations to inhabit.
"Loch Ness is such a big volume of water, she could move around and never be seen in the same place twice," he said. "It is so vast you could fit the whole human race – which is 7 billion people – into the loch."
Mr Campbell also revealed that following worldwide media attention regarding last year's lack of appearances, he received several backdated reports.
"There was one as far back as 1976. It was from a man who saw something – he didn't think it was like a dinosaur. It was more like a very large fish which came out of the water on the south side of the loch out past Dores. The image has remained with him ever since.
"Having spoken to other people, I think there are lots more who have seen 'something' on Loch Ness but who are keeping quiet about it. They don't want to make a big song and dance about it, or want friends to think they have had 'a few too many'.
A sonar image of a large mystery object deep below the surface of Loch Ness netted boat skipper Marcus Atkinson the Best Nessie Sighting of The Year Award for 2011 following an online poll by Courier readers.
Although Mr Atkinson's encounter in Urquhart Bay was not registered at the time with the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, it was reported to full-time Nessie hunter Steve Feltham, based at Dores beach. The image depicted something about 1.5 metres wide and 23 metres below the surface.
The entries for 2014 are:
2nd May, 8.30am:
Estate worker Alistair Foyers spotted a 50ft wake going from the north to south side of the loch's central area.
Mr Foyers, of Resaurie by Smithton, was at the top of Dores Hill overlooking the loch.
The sighting, which was not captured on camera, lasted just over one minute. The weather was sunny, the water was flat calm and there were no boats to be seen anywhere.
"An amazing sight," Mr Foyers said. "I travel this road to Whitebridge daily and I have never seen anything like it."
20th May, 9.50am:
Staff of Loch Ness Lodge at Brackla captured four photographs of something moving at speed for about 15 minutes half way across the loch.
A light har was clearing and there were light waves on the loch at the time of the sighting which was observed by nine people. The images were taken using an iPhone zoomed in as far as possible.
During the sighting, the Jacobite boat left the Clansman Harbour and headed out towards the object and then turned towards Drumnadrochit.
5th January, noon:
Charity worker Andy Dixon spotted a huge shadowy form with two giant flippers beneath the loch's surface while trawling through satellite images used by Apple for its smartphone maps.
Mr Dixon, of Darlington, County Durham, said the water appears very calm and visibility is good. There is no boat activity anywhere.
"I've sent his picture to a lot of people and it has got them scratching their heads so let's try to get to the bottom of this," Mr Dixon said.
5th September 2013:
This entry relates to the same satellite image as sighting three.
Amateur Nessie hunter Peter Thain, of Newbiggin by the Sea in Northumberland, forwarded the image to the Official Loch Ness Monster Club, at the end of 2013. Initially, the club had difficulty in working out what it was because it did not appear on all satellite images.
But when Andy Dixon made separate contact regarding his sighting, the club managed to locate a device with the image on it and asked boating experts to look at it. They said while it looked like a boat wake, there was no hull or superstructure visible nearby.
After seeing the widely-publicised Apple images, Bjarne Sjöstrand, of Stockholm, reported this image from Google Earth.
It is taken at Horse Shoe Scree on the loch's southern side. It seems to be the same size as the Apple image but does not appear to be moving at speed.
* Visit www.inverness-courier.co.uk/News to vote for your favourite Nessie sighting. The poll is located near the foot of the page, in the right column. Closing date is 11.50pm on Sunday, January 11.