The hunt for the Loch Ness monster goes on as scientists use cutting-edge DNA technology to sequence genetic fragments present in the lake that will prove the creature's existence.
A team of international scientists led by Neil Gammell, a geneticist from the University of Otago in New Zealand, started collecting water samples from the Scottish lake. They will process the DNA samples to hopefully reveal the monster's genetic fingerprint.
Finding The Loch Ness Monster
Even though their data may not validate the Loch Ness monster's existence, the researchers said it can still provide valuable information about the loch.
Experts from the University of Canberra, the Natural History Museum of Denmark, the Loch Ness Project, University of California Santa Cruz, as well as the Alpine Ecology Laboratory in France have gathered to form the Loch Ness Hunters group.
The results of their study are expected to be published in January 2019.
The Loch Ness Hunters will use environmental DNA sourced from the skin, feces, eggs, and sperms of plants and animals living in the lake. These traces contain the species' DNA signature, which is deposited in the dirt or water.
By analyzing the water samples, they expect to isolate the DNA of known organisms and identify each of them.
"eDNA is fantastic for assessing biodiversity in, particularly, inaccessible ecosystems. It's already been used to survey deep-sea communities using sediment samples and insect diversity in Antarctica from soil samples," said Helen Taylor, a researcher at the University of Otago who also works with Gemmell.
Sightings Of The Loch Ness Monster
The legend of Nessie has piqued the curiosity of locals and international tourists. According to the Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register, there have been more than 1,000 instances when Nessie was spotted at the Loch Ness and other Scottish lochs.
The latest sighting, which happened on March 26, was reported by a tourist from Idaho in the United States. Dakota Frandsen said a large dark shape creature around 40 feet in length was moving toward Urquhart Castle jetty on mid-afternoon.
Dakota said the skin looked grayish in color resembling that of a hippopotamus. The figure gradually disappeared as it swam to the opposite direction.
Meanwhile, the earliest sighting dates back to 565 AD when the Irish Saint Columba saw the monster and allegedly spoke to it. Reports of the incident occurred not on the Loch Ness itself but on the River Ness, which flows out of the lake into the North Sea.
"In a story told over 100 years after the event, the saint saved one of his followers from being attacked by the creature. He made the sign of the cross and commanded it to 'Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once'," the Loch Ness Hunters wrote on their website.
From then on, sightings of Nessie has become sporadic, although the interest to seek the truth behind the urban legend remains alive.