Loch Ness monster hunt to dive to new depths with latest robot technology
Published 13/04/2016 | 10:10
The mysteries of Loch Ness are being explored to new depths using the latest in robot technology.
Operation Groundtruth hopes to reveal fresh insights into the 755ft (230m) deep loch, said to be home to the legendary Loch Ness Monster.
A marine robot named Munin, with sonar imaging equipment, has been launched to uncover areas that have not been reached before.
Disappointingly for Nessie hunters, early findings have revealed that claims made earlier this year about a "Nessie trench" in the northern basin of the loch are incorrect.
More precise underwater evidence shows there is no anomaly or abyss at the location in question.
The survey - the first of its kind in Scotland - is being carried out over two weeks by Kongsberg Maritime and supported by the Loch Ness Project and VisitScotland.
Loch Ness Project leader Adrian Shine said: "Because Munin can dive and navigate itself safely at great depth, it can approach features of interest and image them at extremely high resolution.
"We already have superb images of the hitherto difficult side wall topography and look forward to discovering artefacts symbolic of the human history of the area."
Loch Ness has been notoriously difficult to survey in the past due to its depth and steeply sloping side walls.
Munin can map vast areas to depths of 4,921ft (1,500m) and has been used in the past to search for downed aircraft and sunken vessels.
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.
VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: "We are excited to see the findings from this in-depth survey by Kongsberg, but no matter how state-of-the-art the equipment is, and no matter what it may reveal, there will always be a sense of mystery and the unknown around what really lies beneath Loch Ness."