By Laurence Ford-Published: 15 September, 2007
IS NESSIE suffering from summertime blues? That's the question monster fans are posing as the traditional summer spotting season draws to a close, with only two recorded sightings of what has been dubbed the Highlands number one icon in a survey conducted for Highland 2007.
However, Nessie's top supporter, Gary Campbell of the Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, points out that sightings tend to be cyclical and next year could see an upsurge of activity in the loch. And a new movie could lead to Nessiemania in 2008.
But what's behind the dearth of activity on the world's most famous stretch of water this year?
"Nessie certainly seems to be keeping her head down," says Gary wryly. "We could maybe put it down to the bad summer, to inclement weather."
He added: "There have been two or three sightings annually in the last few years, whereas 10 years ago it was in the teens. There has not been much interest in terms of people coming to Loch Ness to try and find Nessie. Every 10 to 15 years there tends to be an upsurge in people having expeditions.
"In the 90s there was a general upsurge because of things like the TV's X-Files about the paranormal which attracted a lot of attention and captured the public imagination, but that has died down and we are waiting for something to come along and bump start interest again."
Organised expeditions aside, Gary continued, people were still interested in Nessie, and with the increase in digital cameras and mobile phone cameras, he was still receiving many emails with pictures of what people perceived to be the famous inhabitant of the loch, but which when examined closely turned out to be a boat's wake, a log, or some other identifiable object.
One of the most baffling images recorded on May 26 this year was the video recorded by Gordon Holmes, of Bradford University, said Gary.
"It shows something moving in Loch Ness, but nobody knows what it is," he says. "It does not look like a seal or anything else you might associate with the loch. It's a real mystery."
The first sighting this year occurred on March 27 when English holidaymaker Sidney Wilson snapped what he thought was a head and fin in the loch just off Urquhart Castle, and which featured exclusively in the Highland News, causing a great "is it or isn't it" furore across the globe after it also appeared on our website.
Drumnadrochit-based Willie Cameron, a director of Loch Ness Marketing, endorses Gary's view that Nessie sightings are cyclical, and that the weather plays a big part in monster-spotting opportunities.
"If the palm trees are disappearing in Plockton, it's very much the case that Nessie may be burying herself in the deep," he remarked.
The best sighting this year? - Sidney Wilson was one of the few this season to capture what he thought might be Nessie on the loch.
Willie went on: "I think the weather is cyclical and I think Gary is probably quite right that the monster sightings have no doubt been affected by the weather.
"There are a lot less people going out and about around the loch because the weather has been so bad. The better the weather, the more people go out fishing and canoeing and so on. From that point of view I would definitely say the number of sightings has been affected, and maybe Nessie herself is suffering from the summertime blues.
"That's not to say she has not been making an appearance, because there were not so many people out and about to witness it."
However, Willie was most upbeat about a big increase in monster interest next year following the release of the new film The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, based on the book by Dick King-Smith, about a young boy, played by Alex Etel, who finds an enchanted egg on a Scottish loch side, and when it hatches out, he is propelled on a journey of a lifetime.
"The film launches in America in December and in Britain in February," said Willie, "and I think this will mean we are in for a big winner next year. It's going to be mega. I think the film will bring Loch Ness right into the frame and I am sure there will be a vast surge of interest in Nessie next year"
Willie says the legend of Loch Ness still attracts a lot of attention, and revealed he is is currently working on a documentary for an American company, fronted by US TV personality Sonia Uribe, who are investigating all sorts of mysteries from the pyramids to the Loch Ness Monster.
"If we get decent weather next year, coupled with the launch of the film, I'm sure we'll find Nessie rising from the depths on a more regular basis, and with more eyes on the loch, there will be more recorded sightings," he said.
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