by Mark Chorvinsky


Many have devoted time, money and resources in the search for the Loch Ness Monster. Some, like the late Tim Dinsdale, made it their life's ambition to solve the Nessie enigma and prove her existence to the world. Nessie hunters over the years have included teams from the now-defunct Loch Ness Investigation Bureau with their Lochside vigils, Robert Love's early sonar expeditions, Dan Taylor's Viperfish mini-submarine searches, and the high tech 1987 "Operation Deepscan," which reported several unidentified moving objects during a systematic sonar sweep of the entire Loch.

One of the best-publicized and most fruitful expeditions was that of the Academy of Applied Sciences of Boston, Massachusetts in 1976. Sponsored by the New York Times, expedition leader Dr. Robert Rines took an underwater photograph of the Loch Ness monster on June 20, 1975. The photograph shows what may be the 20 foot long body of the creature. A photograph purporting to show the creature's head was identified in 1987 during Operation Deepscan as a stump. A third photograph, said to show a flipper, was computer-enhanced before it was released to the public, engendering considerable controversy among scientists and monster buffs. Like so many other such photographs, however, it remains inconclusive and open to personal interpretation. In 1978, on the strength of these photographs and others, Sir Peter Scott took it upon himself to give Nessie a scientific name, Nessiteras rhombopteryx, meaning "Ness wonder with a diamond shaped fin."

On June 29, 1993, a four-week $150,000 project was launched that aimed to determine once and for all if Nessie exists. A partnership between Project Urquhart and the Discovery cable channel, the object of the scientists on the team is to study the biology of the loch and, if a monster is part of that biology, so be it! The results of the project have not been made public at the time that this is being written, and Nessie aficionados everywhere will be keeping their fingers crossed.

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