Loch Ness Monster: New Evidence Special Probes Genetic Clues

Travel Channel puts Scotland's biggest mystery under a microscope in two-hour special Loch Ness Monster: New Evidence.

Loch Ness Monster: New Evidence

The Loch Ness Monster has been spotted over 1,000 times since the year 565, and is a major tourism draw for Scotland. The creature, lovingly called Nessie by fans and followers, is reluctant to surface. In Travel Channel’s upcoming special, Loch Ness:  New Evidence, will subject the waters of Loch Ness to forensic science searching for proof that a mythical monster lurks in the deep.

Dr. Neil Gemmell of University of Otago in New Zealand will employ a cutting-edge scientific technique called environmental DNA (eDNA) to test. Gemmell and his team collected marine DNA samples from three different depths across the length of the lake. The samples were filtered for DNA fragments.

“Perhaps the most lasting legacy of this adventure will be that millions of people now know about the power of eDNA to understand, monitor and protect our environment.” Gemmell says. The team found no evidence of reptilian DNA, ruling out the theory that Nessie is a surviving plesiosaur, of the Jurassic era, Britain’s The Telegraph reported. But did find eel DNA.

read more: In Search of Monsters Will Chill Out With Yeti

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The scientific community has been fascinated with the secrets of the Scottish lake for years. The Loch Ness Investigation Bureau, which was started after numerous photographic studies were conducted in the 1930s, had more than 1,000 members investigating the Loch around the clock in search of the monster for nearly all of the 1960s. In the 1970s, the search incorporated the widespread use of submersibles and submarines and then advanced to sonar searches in the 1980s.

“Our cameras have been behind the scenes capturing all of the drama and finally revealing that several leading theories can be scientifically dismissed. Now, the most thorough eDNA study of the loch in history will have its day in the spotlight,” Matthew Butler, general manager of Travel Channel, said in a statement.

The two-hour special will follow the high-tech monster hunt, as Dr. Gemmell carries out his experiments, talks to eyewitnesses and investigates the history of the Loch Ness monster. The special will also spotlight the expeditions of naturalist Adrian Shine, who used a homemade submersible to explore the lake in 1973. Archival footage of this expedition survives to this day. Shine conducted Operation Deepscan, a complete sonar mapping of Loch Ness, in 1987. The sonar detected something mysterious at a depth of nearly 600 feet.

“Is Nessie a giant sturgeon or catfish as many contend,” the press statement asks. “Could it be a new, undiscovered species of large eel? Is it a lost relic of the dinosaur era that captured the world’s imagination in the infamous, black and white ‘Surgeon’s Photo,’ taken in 1934?” Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman suggests the claim that the photo is a hoax was an act of revenge contrived by the family of a dishonored Nessie Hunter.

Loch Ness Monster: New Evidence premieres on Sunday, September 15 at 8 p.m. on Travel Channel.

Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFKRead more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.

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