Underwater robot ‘finds Loch Ness Monster’

'Nessie' makes an appearance in the 1970 film 'The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes'. Picture: Contributed
'Nessie' makes an appearance in the 1970 film 'The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes'. Picture: Contributed

An underwater robot tasked with searching Loch Ness for the elusive Nessie has uncovered the remains of a monster.

MUNIN, a state-of-the-art marine robot, has been scouring the murky depths of the loch in the hope of shedding some light on one of Scotland’s most famous residents.

One of MUNIN's images showing the discarded Nessie model 180 metres below the loch's surface. Picture: Contributed

One of MUNIN's images showing the discarded Nessie model 180 metres below the loch's surface. Picture: Contributed

The investigation - dubbed Operation Groundtruth - is being led by Kongsberg Maritime with support from The Loch Ness Project and VisitScotland.

And now MUNIN has recorded sonar images of what appears to be the remains of a monster around 180 metres beneath the surface of the loch.

The find is that of a 30ft Loch Ness Monster model from the 1970 film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Stephens and Christopher Lee.

It is thought the Nessie model sank after filming had finished, when the trademark humps were removed.

The robot, which operates autonomously and has been used in searches for crashed aircraft and sunken vessels, has also uncovered a 27ft shipwreck as well as disproving claims made in January 2016 that a ‘Nessie trench’ in the northern part of the loch had been discovered.

The survey has been carried out over two weeks, and is the first of its kind in Scotland. Loch Ness has long been considered difficult to search due to the peat content in the water as well as its depth and steep sides.

Craig Wallace of Kongsberg Maritime said: “Kongsberg first surveyed Loch Ness in 1987 and have continually visited bringing the latest technology to uncover this Loch’s mysteries.

“MUNIN is the most advanced low logistic autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) in the world and provides insight to the loch’s depths never before imagined.

“The vehicle allows sonars to scan just a few metres from the loch floor, giving resolution several orders of magnitude greater than anything before.”

Adrian Shine of the Loch Ness Project added: “It is a pleasure to have Kongsberg supporting Operation Groundtruth.

“We already have superb images of the hitherto difficult side wall topography and look forward to discovering artifacts symbolic of the human history of the area.”

VisitScotland chief Malcolm Roughead said he was ‘excited’ by the new findings, adding: “There is no destination in the country that can quite match up to the spirit of Loch Ness.

“No two areas around or on the water feel the same – whether it is a sense of awe at the beauty of the scenery or a feeling of anticipation at what might surface from below the waters.

“No matter how state-of-the-art the equipment is, and no matter what [MUNIN] reveals, there will always be a sense of mystery and the unknown around what really lies beneath Loch Ness.”

Discoveries already made in Loch Ness’s waters include a crashed Second World War bomber, a 100-year-old fishing vessel and parts of John Cobb’s speed record attempt craft Crusader, which crashed at more than 200mph in 1952.

Despite no conclusive evidence of the famed monster, the mystery and interest surrounding Nessie is worth an estimated £60 million to the Scottish economy, with hundreds of thousands of visitors travelling to Loch Ness every year in the hope of catching a glimpse.