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Nessie may still be very large fish, says experienced Highland Loch Ness tour guide

By Staff Reporter

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Loch Ness tour guide Malcolm Willis.
Loch Ness tour guide Malcolm Willis.

AFTER scientists claimed Nessie could in fact be a large eel, one Loch Ness tour guide is standing by his own theory that the creature might be a large sturgeon.

Malcolm Willis, of Culloden, has worked for Loch Ness by Jacobite cruise ships for the past four years and has been fascinated by the region’s most famous inhabitant.

Last week the creature hit the headlines as scientists, who had analysed DNA samples collected at the loch, announced to a packed press conference that it was not a reptilian sea creature, but could be a large eel.

However Mr Willis (65) says he has an alternative theory and instead of being an eel, he is confident the elusive creature could be a sturgeon.

He said: “I’ve got pictures of some of the beluga sturgeon and they are up to 12m in length, they can live up to 200 years and they love deep, dark water.”

The on-board sonar equipment of the Jacobite cruise ships has previously picked up images of large fish, swimming deep down in the loch, and Mr Willis said he had read other articles asking whether the creature could be a sturgeon.

And, when he has spoken of his theory with others – including Nessie hunter Steve Feltham who has lived in a converted mobile library at Dores since 1991 – they have agreed with him. He added: “People generally agree with me saying that it was feasible.”

The first reported modern-day sighting of the Loch Ness Monster appeared in the Inverness Courier in May 1933 and it triggered one of the world’s most enduring enigmas.

It caused a sensation with Bertram Mills, a circus owner, offering £20,000 to anyone who could capture the beast.

However, following recent investigations into environmental DNA present in the water, it was announced to the world’s media there was no definitive evidence of a prehistoric-type marine reptile such as a plesiosaur which had been one of the favoured theories.

The team, led by Professor Neil Gemmell, a geneticist from the University of Otago in New Zealand also ruled out catfish, sturgeon, shark, seals or otters, which were sometimes thought to be behind reported sightings of the monster.

There have been 1100 recorded sightings – between AD565 and last month Gary Campbell, keeper of the register, said the loch was full of eels and he had spoken with a fisherman who had spotted an eel which was longer than his 16ft boat.

And in the 1980s, staff at Foyers power station found a water inlet was not working because it was clogged with eels – one of which was 18ft long.

It has been estimated that the Loch Ness Monster is worth nearly £41 million a year to the Scottish economy.

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