'Surprises aplenty' arise from Loch Ness DNA hunt

Neil Gemmell (centre) on the shores of Loch Ness. PHOTO: Supplied
Neil Gemmell (centre) on the shores of Loch Ness. PHOTO: Supplied
The University of Otago academic leading research into life in the mysterious Loch Ness lake says there will be "surprises aplenty" when eDNA tests from the water are released.

Anatomy professor Neil Gemmell said most analyses were complete, but the team of scientists involved were still rechecking a few results.

International media have reported there may be one theory that supports the existence of the fabled Loch Ness monster.

However, Prof Gemmell clarified that, saying there was one theory about monster sightings that could not be ruled out.

"We have tested all common theories.

"Most, we find no evidence for. One we can not exclude as a possibility," he said.

Findings were expected to be released to the public in early September.

Theories regarding the existence of the Loch Ness monster include the idea that it was a large sturgeon or giant catfish, or a long-necked plesiosaur.

Scientists have used environmental DNA sampling of the waters to identify tiny DNA remnants left behind by life in the loch.

The DNA sequencing and analysis is being carried out in labs in Australia, Denmark and France, as well as the University of Otago.

"The microbes, which represent the most enormous diversity of living things in the loch, and elsewhere, have taken the most time to analyse," Prof Gemmell said.

They will establish a detailed list of all life in Loch Ness and make comparisons between it and other lochs.

DNA fragments come from remnants of skin, scales, feathers, fur and waste.

Prof Gemmell said the scientists were having discussions about their own TV show or series.

"We have already contributed footage and interviews to some major productions either under way or recently completed for German, Japanese and UK channels and production houses."

While the project was a few months behind schedule, it was within budget, due to donations of goods and services from many different companies around the globe.

The project has also been partially funded by university research grants.

Regardless of the results, he did not think tales of the monster would go away any time soon.

"The legend will endure because people want to believe in monsters."

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