Conservation charity the Woodland Trust has dampened the spirits of Nessie-lovers by claiming deadfall washed out by rivers from Urquhart Bay Wood could explain why the Loch Ness Monster had recently been spotted so often.
The trust said that the 56-acre forest was a “Nessie spawning ground”.
A spokesman said debris from the wood near Drumnadrochit and the famous Urquhart Castle was a likely cause of the recent sightings.
He said: “Large amounts of wood flows out of the woodland through the two winding rivers that flow into Loch Ness each year, peaking when water is high in late autumn and spring. I think that some of that debris explains long, thin, stick-like shapes seen.”
The spokesman added: “Urquhart Bay is a really important wet woodland, made up of species such as ash, alder, rowan and willow.
“It’s one of very few intact floodplain woodlands remaining in the UK and has European importance. Challenges such as flooding, movement of the rivers and accumulation of woody debris make it an interesting place to manage.”
Previous explanations for sightings of the monster have even included circus elephants being exercised in the waters.
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Several reported sightings of Nessie have been made recently. Another image of an object in the loch was thought to be the wake of a boat.
Earlier in the year, until the recent reports, monster enthusiasts had been lamenting a lack of incidents.
Gary Campbell, who keeps a register of sightings, said that until recent weeks, no one had come forward for a period of
18 months to say they had seen the monster.
Bookmaker William Hill also said that three entries to its annual Nessie-spotting contest could be explained, claiming they were images of a wave, a duck and a picture not even taken on Loch Ness.
Mr Campbell said the lack of sightings had been the first time since 1925 that there had been no confirmed reports of the monster.
A chartered accountant based in Inverness, he 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 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. I’m convinced that Nessie has just taken some time out and will be back with a vengeance this year.”
Last year, the Loch Ness Monster was placed ahead of the Himalayan Yeti in a list of the top mysteries for travellers to solve.
Wanderlust magazine put Nessie at No 3 and the Yeti at 12. Easter Island’s carved monoliths, the moai, were in first place, followed by Mongolia’s Gobi rock art.
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