Feb 13 2008-By Bob Dow
LEGENDARY Nessie hunter Robert Rines is giving up his search for the monster after 37 years.
The 85-year-old American will make one last trip in a bid to find the elusive beast.
After almost four decades of fruitless expeditions, he admitted: "Unfortunately, I'm running out of age."
World War II veteran Robert has devoted almost half his life to scouring Loch Ness.
He started in 1971. The following year, he watched a 25ft-long hump with the texture of elephant skin gliding through the water.
His original trip was to help another monster hunter with sonar equipment and quickly identified large moving targets.
He was smitten and returned the next year, which is when, he says: "I had the misfortune of seeing one of these things with my own eyes."
Since then, he has been obsessed with tracking down the creature with a staggering array of hi-tech equipment. It was this gear that took the famous "flipper" picture that year which created a stir around the world.
Despite having hundreds of sonar contacts over the years, the trail has since gone cold and Rines believes that Nessie may be dead, a victim of global warming.
He still wants to check almost 100 contacts on the floor of the loch, believing one may be the monster's remains.
Robert bought a cottage on the banks of the loch to live in during his annual summer trips.
He has also set up a "Nessie" room in his Boston home crammed with information gathered over the years. As he prepared for his last hunt, Robert said: "What am I to do - forget what I saw? There are a lot of eyewitness accounts. Are they all liars? All drunks? I don't believe human nature is like that.
"What disturbs me as a lawyer is that we prove cases by eyewitness testimony. The human brain is not 100 per cent accurate but it's not zero either."
In 1975, the trained physicist and inventor managed to get a photograph in the murky waters of the loch which apparently showed the body, flipper, neck and head of an animal.
Since Nessie hunting began in the 1930s, a host of people have tried to find the monster.
Robert, who has also composed Broadway musicals, is regarded as the cream of the crop.
QUEST OF SEARCHERS OF THE DEEP
ROBERT is one of a long list of devoted Nessie hunters. They include American Dan Taylor, who hoped to get a sample of Nessie's skin.
Engineer Tim Dinsdale filmed a large object on the loch in 1960 and led 56 expeditions. Ex-sniper Frank Searle falsely claimed to have photos of the monster between 1969 and 1983. Steve Feltham, from Dorset, has scanned the loch from a caravan for 17 years. Adrian Shine has spent 30 years studying the loch - but doesn't believe in the monster. BBC reporter Nicholas Witchell has also been a Nessie fan for more than 30 years.
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