THE Loch Ness Monster has disappeared, with no confirmed sightings of the legendary creature being recorded in 2013.
It is the first time in almost 90 years when the monster has failed to make an appearance.
Kevin Carlyon, the High Priest of White Witches in the UK, has claimed a spell he placed on the loch to protect Nessie from “exploitation of fraudsters” explains her non-appearance.
He said: “I personally believe Nessie is a ghost of a dinosaur, who has been regularly seen on the loch.
“But the spirit of the creature has been so exploited in recent years I decided to carry out an exorcism, hence no sightings of the monster.”
The white witch has vowed to return this summer to lift the spell and “put Nessie back”.
Veteran spotter Gary Campbell, of the Official Loch Ness Monster Club, keeps a register of sightings, but said no-one had come forward in 18 months with proof they had seen the monster.
Three reports of possible encounters
There had been three reports of possible encounters, but these were immediately discounted as fakes or mistakes.
Bookmaker William Hill, which failed to pay out a £1000 prize for the best Nessie sighting for 2013, said the three entries to its contest could be explained – as images of a wave, a duck and a picture not even taken on Loch Ness.
Mr Campbell said it was the first time since 1925 that there had been no confirmed reports of the monster.
He said: “It’s very upsetting news and we don’t know where she’s gone.
“The number of sightings has been reducing since the turn of the century but this is the first time in almost 90 years that Nessie wasn’t seen at all.
“Pretty much everyone now carries a camera with them in their smart phone - this allows then to snap what they’re seeing and means that we don’t just have to rely on eyewitness evidence. As last year has shown, all the pictures and videos taken can prove to the expert eye that it wasn’t Nessie that was being filmed.
William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said:”Although we had three entries, one was a wave, one a duck and the other wasn’t from Loch Ness - even the one other sighting for the year that wasn’t entered was a video of a wave.
Mr Adams added: “We’ve now more than doubled the odds of finding proof that Nessie exists to 250-1 and we’ve done a ‘monster rollover’ on the prize meaning that this year’s winner could be taking away £2000.”
Mr Campbell, a chartered accountant based in Inverness, has been logging Nessie sightings for 17 years after seeing something in the loch himself.
As Nessie’s registrar of sightings, he has put together a list of sightings going back 1,500 years.
Irish missionary St Columba is said to have encountered a beast in the River Ness in 565AD.
Mr Campbell said: “So far 1,036 reported sightings have been recorded and there were some in 2012.
“It could be a blip. I’m convinced that Nessie has just taken some time out and will be back with a vengeance this year.”
Mr Campbell has appealed to people to keep an eye out for the monster this year.
2013 was 80th anniversary of first modern-day sighting
Ironically 2013 was the 80th anniversary of the first “modern-day” sighting of Nessie.
The local paper, the Inverness Courier, reported on 2 May, 1933, a Mr and Mrs MacKay, of Drumnadrochit, on the shores of the loch, saw something strange in the waters near Abriachan.
The story became a global sensation and the term, Loch Ness Monster, was coined.
The most famous and controversial hoax was the “surgeon’s photo” taken by Robert Wilson in 1934.
Published in the Daily Mail, it appeared to be a head and neck rising from the water and became one of the most famous images of Nessie.
At the time, Mr Wilson stated that he had only photographed “an object moving in Loch Ness”, but 60 years later he admitted it had been faked.
The best image to date which has not been explained was taken by Richard White, of Muir of Ord, in 1997. And in 2000, Bobbie Pollock of Glasgow is acclaimed to have the best filmed footage, with nobody being able to identify what is swimming around Invermoriston Bay for 18 minutes.
White Witch Kevin Carlyon said: “I will return this summer to lift my spell, and hopefully sightings of Nessie’s spirit will return.”
Mr Campbell, meanwhile, hopes for a better 2014.
He said: “Given the number of unexplained sightings in the past, there is definitely something in the loch.
“Unfortunately, the only way of proving it is to have a body, and no one wants a monster washed up on the beach.”
The controversy around the existence of Nessie peaked in the 1960s when a Loch Ness Investigation Bureau was set up.
In addition to still and movie cameras positioned around the loch, the bureau had a team of mobile camera crews, sonar and airbourne searches.
It closed in 1972 due to a lack of funds.
Last year, Loch Ness Monster was placed ahead of the Himalaya’s Yeti in a list of “top 18 mysteries” for travellers to solve in 2014.
Wanderlust Magazine put Nessie at number three and the Yeti at 12.
Actor Charlie Sheen also recently spoke about his surprise search for the Loch Ness Monster - revealing that he hunted Nessie with a bottle of whisky.
He admitted he wants to return with American TV host Jay Leno to resume his monster hunt.