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“Monster hunters” from as far away as Japan and New Zealand will be watching live broadcasts from Loch Ness in Scotland in hopes of settling a long-running debate over whether or not the famous monster, called Nessie, actually exists.
The legend of the Loch Ness monster dates back to ancient times, although the story really gained traction after 1933 when sightings of a “prehistoric dragon or monster” were reported in the Scottish press.
The news spurred a host of investigations, many of which have since been dismissed as hoaxes.
Paul Nixon, director of the Loch Ness Centre, told CNN in a phone interview that about 100 volunteers will be looking for signs of life on the banks of the loch itself, while again the same number will survey the site remotely.
Volunteers, who are still able to register to participate online, will have to keep their eyes peeled as they focus on footage taken from four webcams at strategic points around the lake.
“The volunteers will be watching the water,” Nixon said. “If they spot something, I hope they photograph it and then submit it to our online portal.”
Loch Ness is one of the largest bodies of water in the British Isles, at 22 miles long and over 750 feet deep.
The center, which reopened earlier this year after a $1.9 million renovation project, is on the site of the old Drumnadrochit Hotel, where 90 years ago then-manager Aldie Mackay reported seeing a “water monster.”
Now the interactive attraction has joined forces with the Loch Ness Exploration (LNE), an independent and voluntary research team, to clean up the waters like never before in hopes of uncovering some answers.
Each morning volunteers will be told by Alan McKenna, founder of the LNE, what to look out for, including signs of “red herrings” and other marine movements that can be ignored.
Organizers say it’s the biggest “surface watch” since the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau (LNIB) studied Loch Ness in 1972, when volunteers were also searching for the legendary beast – but without the high-tech equipment.
Dubbed the “Research,” the event will include surveying equipment that has not been used before there, such as thermal drones to produce images from the air using infrared cameras and a loudspeaker to detect acoustic signals underwater.
“What’s different about our research this time around is that obviously our volunteers will be armed with cell phones and will be able to capture any movement more accurately and systematically,” Nixon said.
“Since the inception of the LNE, our goal has always been to record, study and analyze all kinds of natural behavior and phenomena that may be more difficult to explain,” McKenna said in a press release.
Pleading for budding monster hunters to sign up, he added: “We hope to inspire a new generation of Loch Ness fans and by joining this large-scale surface watch you will have a real opportunity to contribute personally to this fascinating mystery that has enthralled so many people from all over the world.” .
Once the weekend is over, Nixon said, the views will be compared, analyzed, and the results made public.
He said: “I think there is a very strong possibility that something will be spotted this weekend, but then, of course, it raises the question of what that will be.
“We will certainly have enough eyes on the water – we just need some good conditions to spot the water,” he added.
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