Nessie's cousin making waves in tourism capital
RALPH RIEGEL IRISH marine experts will next month begin an exhaustive hunt to determine if the Loch Ness Monster has an Irish cousin - dubbed Muckie - living at the bottom of the 70-metre deep Muckross Lake in Killarney.
Ironically, the scientific data to support the existence of such a large creature or monster is stronger in Ireland than in Scotland, where the only evidence to support Nessie has been wildly varying eyewitness accounts.
Marine experts are to return to Muckross next month after an expedition to study marine stocks last April revealed a stunning sonar reading about a creature or object the size of a small house.
The experts, led by Limerick's Dr Fran Igoe, were shocked by the reading and could find no explanation for the scale or nature of the sonar return.
Normally, such large sonar returns are generated by objects having been dumped into deep water - but Muckross, at the heart of Killarney's famous national park, has been protected for over two generations and there hasn't been any dumping into the lake.
The reading at the centre of the Muckie controversy came from the middle of Muckross's three lakes, where depths can reach 70 metres.
Dr Igoe and a team of experts will conduct more detailed studies into fish stocks at the Killarney lake in September. But their main aim will be to determine what object - or creature - could possibly have produced the giant sonar return last April.
Manager of the Killarney National Park, Paddy O'Sullivan, admitted to being personally dubious about the so-called lake monster.
"I don't think anything of that size could have been living in the lake for this long without someone having seen it or traces of it having been detected," he admitted.
Unlike Nessie, whose legend is entirely based on sightings, no-one has ever been reported to have set eyes on Muckie.
Likewise, there have never been reports of animals such as deer, sheep, or wildfowl having been attacked by a giant marine creature living on the lake bed.
However, there appears little other explanation for the sonar reading - and, ironically, the data about the size of the sonar return appears similar to reports about the scale of Nessie.
The only thing not in doubt in Kerry is that the sensation of a possible first cousin to Nessie has threatened to galvanize an ordinary season in Ireland's undisputed tourism capital, with Killarney's famous jarveys busy telling tourists about Muckie.