Nessie national animal drive starts
A campaign to have the Loch Ness Monster recognised as the national animal of Scotland has been launched at a tourism show.
Inverness cruise company Loch Ness by Jacobite is spearheading the drive to see Nessie replace the unicorn which is currently the country's national animal, a legacy from William I's decision to use the mythical creature on his coat of arms.
The first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster dates back to 565AD and the question of whether or not she exists is said to be worth millions each year to Scottish tourism.
Members of the public are being urged to sign a petition at http://bit.ly/nessie4national which will be presented to the Scottish Government in an effort to secure Nessie's place as national animal.
Freda Newton, of Loch Ness by Jacobite, said: "We have been running tours of Loch Ness for 40 years now, with many of our visitors coming to search for or at least catch a glimpse of one of the world's most famous monsters.
"Nessie is an icon and an asset. There is no doubt she attracts hundreds of tourists to Scotland every year and she deserves recognition. If not as our national animal, then at least she should be awarded the title of Scotland's national monster.
"A formal nod to Nessie's fame is long overdue. Those who wish to back the campaign should sign the petition now and show their support on Twitter."
A new Twitter account @RealNessie has been set up to give the Loch Ness Monster her own voice as part of the campaign, which organisers said has drawn support from the Monster Raving Loony Party.
The campaign was launched at the VisitScotland expo 2015.
Earlier this week, Google launched a Street View experience that allows people to search for the Loch Ness Monster.
When searching in the Loch Ness area, the usual yellow Google Pegman will change to a Nessie peg-monster, giving users the power to zoom in on different areas of the loch.
VisitScotland hopes the global initiative will raise the profile of Loch Ness and Scotland.