Friday, 6 September 2019

The Loch Ness Monster could be a giant eel.

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It is definitely not a reptilian sea creature.
It is not even a primeval shark. So what is the Loch Ness monster? According to the most comprehensive survey of the loch ever, it might be a large eel.
Or, scientists conceded, lots of small ones.
Reported sightings, and a few dubious photographs, have suggested the existence of a dinosaur-like creature with a long neck and undulating humped back. A team from the University of Otago in New Zealand appear to have finally killed off that myth.
The researchers analysed DNA collected from water samples to catalogue life in the freshwater lake. Yesterday camera crews from around the globe gathered in the village of Drumnadrochit to hear Neil Gemmell, the project leader, announce his findings.
Professor Gemmell said: “Sorry, I don’t think the plesiosaur idea holds up based on the data that we have obtained. There’s no shark DNA based on our sampling. There is also no catfish DNA. We can’t find any evidence of sturgeon either.”
Instead, he said, eel DNA had been found at almost all of the locations sampled. “There are a lot of them. We can’t discount the possibility that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness. Is it possible there’s a giant eel? Maybe — or just many small eels.”
Professor Gemmell said that a video shot by a tourist in 2007 in which a 13ft (4m) torpedo-like shape appears to swim on the loch’s surface supported the giant eel hypothesis. “Divers have claimed that they’ve seen eels that are as thick as their legs,” he said. “Whether they’re exaggerating or not I don’t know but there is a possibility that there are very large eels present. Whether they are as big as around four metres as some of these sightings suggest . . .
“As a geneticist I think about mutations and natural variation a lot, and while an eel that big would be well outside the normal range, it seems not impossible that something could grow to such unusual size.”
There have been countless theories and sightings in recent decades, while an online register of reported sightings has recorded more than 1,100, dating from last month back to AD565.
Gary Campbell, the keeper of the register, said: “Loch Ness is teeming with eels and about 20 years ago a fisherman came to me and said, ‘Listen I’ve got to tell you. We’ve got a 16ft boat with an outboard and when we were fishing on Loch Ness an eel passed on the surface of the water and it was longer than the boat’.
“In the 1980s the staff at the Foyers power station found a water inlet wasn’t working because it was clogged by eels and one of them was 18ft long.”
The eel theory has long been touted by the Centre for Fortean Zoology, which is based in Woolfardisworthy, Devon, and has launched expeditions to trace the monster.
Richard Freeman, its zoological director, said: “The idea of a prehistoric reptile in cold northern lakes is a non-starter.
“I think the best bet are giant sterile eels. Sometimes a mutation occurs and the eel is sterile. These stay in fresh water and keep on growing.”
Enduring mystery
In 1933 the Inverness Courier’s report that a “monster” had been sighted in Loch Ness caused a sensation. Bertram Mills, a circus owner, offered £20,000 to anyone who could capture it. The next year a notorious photograph was published in the Daily Mail. Catfish, sturgeon, seals, freak waves, underwater gas and fallen logs have since been suggested as the source of the mystery.
The Times.

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