Monday, 3 April 2017

eDNA and Nessie




I received a phone call from a Sunday Post journalist last week asking for my opinion on an upcoming project at Loch Ness. They have now run this article on attempts to DNA profile the loch using the proven technique of Environmental DNA retrieval or eDNA. Some of my comments appear in the article but I wanted to flesh out some of them here.

The journalist had contacted me through an article I had written three years ago on the search for Nessie carcasses and I had suggested eDNA may be a tool for finding clues to unidentified species in the loch. Coming to the present day, I welcome such a scientific endeavour, even as I did back then. My comments to him with additional thoughts are set out below.

Firstly, the water sampling needs to be planned properly. Loch Ness is the largest body of freshwater in the United Kingdom.  How many water samples have to be taken and where? I note that a similar study done at England's largest lake, Windermere, last year involved more than 60 two-litre samples. Since the water volume of the lake is 314 million cubic metres compared to 7.4 billion cubic metres for Loch Ness, does this mean an equivalent sampling of 1400 buckets will need to be done?

In terms of large, unknown creatures, their biomass will generally be a fraction of the biomass they predate. How does that affect the required sensitivity of the sampling? Also, if they are mainly benthic or littoral residents rather than open water pelagic dwellers, then sample locations have to take this into account.

Secondly, the eDNA experiment would have to prove its worth by detecting those indigenous species we already know about such as Arctic char and European eels. One may even include such things as human DNA from sewage works discharges! But how will the experiment fare when attempting to detect rarer populations such as Pike and Lamprey?

If a known species cannot be detected, then this has to be highlighted as a limit on the experiment. That particular survey on Lake Windermere successfully identified 14 out of 16 of the known resident species. The rarest two were not detected, so it is not perfect, but it is more efficient than live samples using nets.

Thirdly, there is the matter of occasional visitors such as Atlantic salmon, Sea trout and seals. Will their DNA persist in the loch long enough to enable detection? I understand that DNA in water can degrade in a matter of weeks, depending on various factors. Obviously, this has a bearing on the theory that the Loch Ness Monster is actually not indigenous but itinerant and visits the loch in the same manner of seals. In this sense, eDNA is more a technique for monitoring the ebbs and flows of species permanently resident in aquatic regions.

Fourthly, having identified and eliminated known DNA traces from the water samples, what will be left? This is clearly the part that interests everyone the most and would potentially consist of known and unknown DNA samples. It is clear that no one knows what Plesiosaur DNA looks like. A hit on sturgeon DNA would be interesting but is dependent on point three. Indeed, what about the Wels Catfish hypothesis?

Moreover, if Nessie was indeed a giant eel, could this be distinguished from the DNA of the indigenous European eels? It is likely that any DNA that has no clear parallel in available DNA databases could still be placed in a higher taxonomy. So what would we deduce if a DNA sample classified as "reptilian" was found?

Fifthly, there is the side subject of Sedimentary Ancient DNA or sedaDNA. This is an aspect of eDNA which looks for ancient DNA traces in sedimentary deposits and if the sediment is sufficiently deprived of oxygen, allows the resident DNA to survive longer. Where one would obtain such samples is not clear. My thoughts turned to the core samples done by Adrian Shine in years past, but I doubt any DNA in them would have survived to the present day.

In conclusion, those who believe in an itinerant or paranormal Nessie will predict nothing will be found. Those who believe in a giant Nessie eel may not be able to conclusively detect such DNA.  Those who are more sceptical may yet hold out for giant catfish or a surprise sturgeon. My own view is that the creatures are part itinerant and part resident, but the time proportions are not known to me.

For the rest, if the tests are done properly, the idea of a present and continuously breeding, indigenous herd of large predators may yet receive its stiffest test. Note I say "present" as this will give no indication of the past in Loch Ness when any population in the loch may have been higher than it is now.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com

Text of Sunday Post Article (for archive purposes):


IT is a mystery that has persisted for more than a thousand years.
But now a scientist is hoping to use cutting-edge dino-DNA technology to determine once and for all whether the Loch Ness Monster exists or not.

Professor Neil Gemmell wants to solve the mystery by looking for traces of unusual DNA in the water of the loch.

The study would involve gathering water samples from various locations at different depths of Loch Ness, before analysing them using the same techniques police forensic teams use at crime scenes.
Prof Gemmell, from The University of Otago in New Zealand, believes his scientific study could solve the enduring, world famous monster mystery.

He said: “Our group uses so- called environmental DNA to monitor marine biodiversity. From a few litres of water, we can detect thousands of species ranging from whales, sharks to plankton.
“Essentially all large organism lose cells from their skin, or digestive system, or whatever, as they move through their environment.

“New genomic technology is sensitive enough to pick this up even when rare, and we can use comparisons to large sequence databases that span the majority of known living things. If there was anything unusual in the Loch, these DNA tools would likely pick up that evidence.”

News of the potential DNA study has sent shockwaves through the Nessie-monitoring world.
Researcher and enthusiast Roland Watson, 54, welcomed the study.
He said: “I’m all for scientific inquiry and trying to find this thing by any means we have.
“I’m not aware of anyone having done a DNA test before.

“I’d want to know if the test would be sensitive enough to detect animals that are visitors to the loch, such as seals and Atlantic salmon. The monster could be visiting. There are some monster supporters that would not care about the result because they believe it is something paranormal and so wouldn’t expect to see any DNA.”

Naturalist Adrian Shine is the leader of the Loch Ness Project and has carried out field work on the loch for a host of universities and researchers since 1973. He said he and his team could potentially help gather samples for the study.

He said: “I would be very interested in the results.
“We would certainly be able to help getting samples.”

Steve Feltham has spent 26 years trying to solve the mystery from his base on the shores of the loch. He said: “If anyone thinks they can identify it – bring them on.
“Anything that gives us more knowledge is to be welcomed.”

Steve also said that he wouldn’t give up his hunt even if the study suggested there was nothing there.
He said: “I can guarantee you someone would see something the next day.”
Dores Community Council chairwoman Ella Macrae said she would be interested in the study but said the results won’t change the popularity of the myth.

She said: “The mystery will still be spoken about in decades to come when this study is done.
“I don’t think they will ever get to the bottom of it.”




90 comments:

  1. Interesting! I think sceptics and believers should both welcome any new methods of getting results.

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  2. There are too many variables with Loch Ness that will leave this effort inconclusive. Like Operation Deepscan it will yield intriguing yet inconclusive results.

    This eDNA technology needs decades of development and improvement to conquer Loch Ness. Good luck to you Professor Gemmell. Loch Ness is not even sonar reliable with the steep walls bouncing signals back to where the depth of Loch Ness is argued to this day, 754ft? 812? 975ft? If the Lake Windermere eDNA testing missed two of 16 resident species of fish that is not enough, good but not exact.

    I do believe large animals unknown to science either reside or visit the Loch but this effort will not detect anything clearly, it will only provide inconclusive results for those to speculate upon.

    If no results emerge of unknown DNA from the waters of Loch Ness the sightings will continue, people will swear they glimpsed a monster. Some will be fooled by obvious boat wakes and so on yet some eyewitnesses will be credible however provide no photographs or film or cell phone shots. A distant blurry spot will appear in the media as Nessie on the surface......

    I hope I'm wrong, I'm not a scientist by any means.

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    1. That is my concern, that the sampling regime does not cover a reasonable range of scenarios.

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  3. The question is, just how rare were the 2 species in Windermere that were not detected, compared to the 14 that were? Also I have a feeling that the amount of DNA shed into the water would be different for different species.

    I don't think 1400 samples would be needed! A step-by-step approach would be best. Take a few samples and see if the known inhabitants are detected.

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    1. I believe the 2 species were a type of lamprey. very rare in the lake at the time of the experiment.

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    2. I would assume this is a one-shot visit and so they have to get the sampling right first time.

      Gezza, the Windermere article speculated the lampreys may not have been present in the lake at the time of the testing, but in reality they would have to concede the lamprey DNA was not there due to their smaller presence in the lake.

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    3. Well i havnt a clue what numbers the lampreys would be in the lake compared to other fish, but my guess is quite a few if it is the right time of year. My guess is there was no DNA because indeed they were not present in the lake at the time of the testing

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  4. It certainly sounds like an idea, and assuming the creature is able to be sampled in a conventional manner, I can only imagine the sheer volume of water needed to be sampled. I agree with Jack that this technology needs refinement, but we have to start somewhere. We still don't know how sensitive the technique is at present, and if it could pick up a possible small population. And if Nessie did have the DNA profile of an eel, or other known creature, one might suspect that this technique may not work in a manner that would differentiate, given the tiny volumes. I might be wrong.

    It's some little steps, but it's exciting. Loch Morar might be a better candidate though

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    1. I don't think large sampling per se is necessary since currents can mix the DNA aorund the area. The problem for me is sampling in other regions where this mixing is not guaranteed, such as the bottom or sides.

      We know the LNM is not an open water swimmer else sonar would have picked them up long ago in abundance. That either means they are at the fringes or even itinerant as some aver.

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    2. If microscopic DNA is liberated from the source, it should be water soluble. So, if that's what we're looking for, it should equilibrate in concentration, eventually. I.e., it shouldn't matter where you sample. However, it all depends on how stable this DNA will be in water, and for how long. The water is cool, which is good, but everything degrades. One would hope it's being replaced faster than it degrades.
      If samples require some physical item, eg. a piece of skin, this would be harder to obtain since your sample would have to grab some in passing.

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    3. I think DNA only lasts for a few weeks in water.

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    4. The sampling would obviously have to pick up a very current population then. Makes it a bit more difficult, but you never know. I think, from memory, the sightings at Morar occured much more frequently during sunny periods, and in warmer weather. Maybe that's the time to do the sampling.

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  5. This eDNA study is something I hope to see yourself Roland or Adrian Shine involved in and lending expertise. Dr Gemmell I hope would be informed or have an understanding of Loch Ness beforehand as results may vary.
    Is surface water say near the Foyers river mouth different from deep water 200-700 feet down ? What about all the suspended peat particles that stain the Loch? Could the layers of bottom silt contain any native species DNA?

    If unfamiliar DNA is found that does not match anything known to be living in Loch Ness or altogether anywhere else for that matter what next?

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    1. From my limited understanding of DNA, it will last longer in silt, but not for years.

      If unknown DNA is found, they can still match it to the closest animals in their DNA databases.

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  6. I'd have thought there'll be all sorts of DNA in the loch given the vast expanse of the catchment area.

    It's a study i can't see producing anything definitive. It'll likely raise more questions than it answers.

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  7. Have you any idea when this testing will be done? I am up Loch ness a few times a year and it would be good to be up there when something is going on.

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  8. Well chaps this is exciting news. Can't understand why so many of us seem to be getting our excuses in early though. It feels like you're EXPECTING no interesting DNA to be found! Almost like you're secretly skeptics. Stay POSITIVE folks!!

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  9. I get the feel that most believers are concerned that if nothing is found then people will say 'thats it, nothing there!'even though the sheer volume of water in this testing is a major concern. Ok the results from windermere were spot on but the average depth is very shallow compared to loch ness and you would expect the DNA of fish with huge masses like trout and charr and eels to be found whereas if there is a small population of large unidentified creatures in the huge volume of loch ness then you might not get their DNA by sampling small areas of water.But of course if there are any unidentified large creatures ( nessie's) in the loch then there is a chance they might find their DNA so im all for this testing although whilst it could proove there is something there im afraid it cant proove that there is not anything there if you get my drift.

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    1. I'd be more optimistic than this Gezza. All those photos from MacNab, Stuart, the Dinsdale film. If they're not fake or mistakes you can be sure they'll show up in this DNA search. Those things are HUGE!! And I'd say they're too big to come up and down the river undetected.

      No I'm a believer in Nessie as a large humped animal so I will be convinced they've died out if this DNA search doesn't show up an anomaly.

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    2. I would like to see the methodology behind sampling, simple as that. Many "scientific" experiments at the loch have not been done well...

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    3. The problem is politics.
      I already predict that " nothing will be found out of the ordinary,except for a few bait scapegoats".

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  10. Well if nothing shows up i hope they dont go down the same decieving road as the BBC sonar testing did claiming they went from top to bottom on the loch with no results whilst in reality they did no more than 30% of the loch in one go,hence leaving 70% of the loch for anything to stay hidden. But as a researcher i welcome this DNA testing and look forward to seeing if anything unidentified shows up. If it does, well wait for the BOOM in interest and tourism !

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    1. If the sampling is good enough to show up all the known species in the Loch, but we don't have an additional "Species X" in the DNA, then for this Nessie fan at least, the game is over. But I do believe they're likely to find unknown DNA. We'll see!

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    2. If you read the article, it is far from "game over". Itinerant, paranormal, giant eel, any more?

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    3. I said for THIS Nessie fan. I have my own beliefs not instructed by this article. Why would it be game over for me? Because I believe in the Dinsdale film and MacNab photo. I also believe in the many hump sighting reports. Therefore I can't believe Nessie is a giant eel. I also believe Nessie is too big to travel to and from the sea undetected. And I'm also one of many who don't believe in a paranormal monster. So for me, if all other species show up but no Species X then the Nessie story is finished. That's my choice surely?

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    4. So ... if no DNA turns up in 2017, that means there was no monster in the loch in 1960 or 1955?

      Explain.

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    5. Didn't the BBC, fine establishment though it is (the Saville affair excluded), set out to look for an air breather? I'm fairly sure we're not looking for an air breather.

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    6. No it doesn't mean that! I've even made that clear above when I said "died out". All I mean is I will feel it's now game over, no more Nessie. And then my quest will be over. Sadly I can't turn the clock back to 1960 and prove beyond doubt that the animals existed then. Anyway I am hoping these DNA tests show an unknown species along with all the known ones. If some of the known ones don't show in the DNA then the whole experiment is worthless in terms of a conclusion.

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    7. That's another issue right there, if no DNA in 2017 is evident then everybody and the media will rule out Nessie.
      I believe the Dinsdale film shows something large and unknown ( not the comparison boat shot after) Tim said he watched the animal through binoculars and I believe Tim !!
      A strong sighting with some video this year in the meantime would be great to stir interest, maybe another event like the Holmes video or Atkinson sonar finding will occur.

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  11. Im not sure Martin if the BBC were looking for an air breather but my point was that in their final conclusion they told the world they covered the loch from top to bottom and found nothing, but forgot to add they only covered about 30% per day leaving 70% untouched.A lot of people were duped into thinking they did it in one sweep so there was nowhere for any creature to hide, a bit decieving in my point of view and to add a pointless test. I just hope everything about this new DNA test is above board and everybody gets the correct information.

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    1. We have to admit that wasn't a good result though. I think Nessie may well be long gone. The heyday was the 1970's I'd say. Probably killed off by pollution in the 1980's but I hope not.

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    2. Yes, i agree. I have been known to misremember things,but i do remember a largish survey for an air breather, and i thought it was courtesy of the BBC. At the time i thought that would wrap it up, sadly. Now i know a bit better.

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    3. Just as well Nessie continues to be sighted ... whatever the eDNA results will say.

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    4. I think she'd still be spotted if the Loch was covered in concrete. That's just the nature of the mystery now, people apparently see it even when they don't. What's needed is good moving images.

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    5. No, we are still getting reports over recent years.

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    6. That's exactly what I was saying. The reports would continue regardless of whether Nessie was a possibility or not. That's where we've arrived with this mystery. It's self-perpetuating even if the animals died out decades ago. I'm pinning my hopes on the DNA tests showing they're alive and well!

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    7. You may get the continued usual percentage of sightings which can be explained by waves, logs, etc, but the higher grade sightings would stop.

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    8. I'm afraid I don't agree with your assessment. The "higher grade sightings" as reported could be mistaken or just plain fake too. That's why I think we need a good moving image in order to really know they're still in there. It's more than a little concerning that we've not had any Dinsdale-type films for 57 years. It's easy for someone to say they saw something like the animal hump in the Dinsdale film, but only TD walked the walk and actually came up with the proof. Why no similar film since? Well, I worry that this DNA research will reveal the answer to be that they're just not there anymore. I will absolutely love it if the research shows there's something unknown in there still. But let's not kid ourselves that it'll be no concern if all other Loch life DNA shows up but nothing from an unknown creature. I think we all know what that would really tell us... she's gone for good now.

      Anyway this is just talk, I can't wait for the positive results we're all hoping for!

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    9. That would suggest you discount all eyewitness testimony since 1933 yet still believe in a large unknown creature. I have never met a monster believer who did that!

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    10. I don't. I definitely consider some of the early sightings with multiple witnesses as valid. But I think we all know there's a lot of false reports too. I don't think the most hardened monster fanatic would disagree. The thing is if you subtract the real reports you are still left with the false ones. So my point is that even if Nessie is long gone we'll still have apparently credible reports of sightings. As a firm believer I don't deny these annoying facts.

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    11. I don't think Nessie is long gone. It is the opposite to me, subtract the false to leave the real.

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    12. That equation works too Glasgow Boy. Subtract either batch (true or false) from the overall pool of reports and you're still left with reports. That's the crazy thing about this mystery, could be very real but, if you don't believe in the films and videos, could be entirely false. Maddening!

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  12. Reading back over older parts of this blog I see many of the Nessie fans were really excited about this DNA search method. Now it's upon us the tone has changed. It's now more like "if they find nothing it won't matter, we'll be able to criticise the method".

    I think we as believers can't have it both ways. If the sampling shows an unknown animal present that will bolster our case. If the sampling shows everything known in the Loch but nothing else, then that without any doubt is damaging to the case that there's a resident colony of large hump backed animals. Let's all stop picking the tests apart and get onboard! This could be the big one folks!

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    1. It is rather a case of critiquing the method NOW, not after. I would also suggest that finding "unknown DNA" does not prove there is a large resident colony of monsters.

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    2. Couldn't agree more Glasgow Boy, that's why I used the phrase "bolster our case" and made no mention of it proving anything.

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  13. I agree, whilst i have my doubts about the DNA of every living thing in the loch been found( because of the sheer volume) i also think if DNA of an unknown souce IS found it doesnt proove its off a large creature. But i do think if we see a headline ' unidentified DNA found in loch ness' it will send a spark bigger than seen since dinsdale's film or 0peration Deepscan!

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    1. Unknown DNA would generate interest, but there is "big beast" unknown and "small beast" unknown.

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    2. Gezza has nailed it, unknown DNA found would be massive.

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    3. No, just my opinion.I believe if unknown DNA is found the skeptics will still play it down, but our media will play it up hmm i can imagine the headlines now! It would be great for the highland industry.

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    4. I can't see how sceptics could play unknown DNA down. Unknown DNA would mean an unknown animal is present in Loch Ness. Whichever way anyone looks at that it would mean there's a previously undiscovered species in the Loch. Groundbreaking news for anyone.

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    5. Well, yes and no. They discovered a species of flatworm in the loch years back that was previously unknown (to the loch). Hardly exciting stuff, especially if it had probably been accidentally brought in by an American team.

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    6. Hopefully it's obvious I'm talking about DNA unknown to science, rather than just DNA not expected in Loch Ness but known to science. An entirely undiscovered DNA sequence would be incredible, regardless of not knowing the size of animal it comes from.

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    7. Gezza, what's your line of work which allows you to have regular trips to Loch Ness?

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    8. I am not entirely sure I would expect DNA "unknown to science", I would find it strange that an LNM would be so detached from the biological tree. There should be enough DNA in any biological Nessie candidate to closely align it with something known. After all, even chimps and humans' DNA only differs by a few percent. Perhaps a Nessie is very close to something known and boring, but a few genetic tweaks turns it into a monster (as per my thoughts on giant versus normal boring eels).

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    9. The Dinsdale hump is no eel with a minor modification. It's a big hump propelled by paddle strokes. Nothing whatsoever like an eel. So if eel DNA is present it won't be ok for any of use to claim that as a possible source of what Tim filmed.

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    10. I was using the Giant Eel as an example of how large variations could happen from small DNA changes ....

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    11. Henry, continental shifts !

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    12. I think the Nessie which fits the facts can't be a close variant of anything known that's still alive and in the DNA catalog. We're looking at an animal with a long neck, huge body, flippers, water breather. Each of those features makes Nessie a far cry from anything we know. There are animals which have some of these features but not all. I believe Nessie is so unique in description that if her DNA is found it will be unique enough to not be mistaken for anything else like an eel or turtle. This is the big one folks. Prepare for the public interest needle to swing sharply one way or the other. The result will either boost the legend in a BIG way, or we'll see another big increase in scepticism along the lines of what happened after 1987's Operation Deepscan. Whatever anyone here thinks about that event, it definitely killed off Nessie for the majority of the public.

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    13. You can't really say that. Even humans and mice share 90% DNA. You are exaggerating the potential of this.

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    14. no just over the border :-)

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    15. Glasgow Boy, we'll have to agree to disagree. It feels to me like there's some degree of preparing of the ground going on here though. Pre-made justifications for the scenario of nothing unusual being found. As believers we should be more even-handed than that my friend.

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  14. Can you imagine the media if unknown DNA is found in the Loch ? Knowing our newspapers they would go well over the top lol. I think the tourism would rocket, which would be great for the highlands.

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    1. Time for George Edwards to dump some shark/crocodile/whale blood in the loch just before they arrive?

      Dump some abattoir DNA in the loch and the water bull wil be all the talk!

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  15. Yes it wouldnt mean it came off a large animal, it could be something small.

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  16. Henry, the Dinsdale hump is a shape in the water. It may or may not represent the back of an animal. There are compelling arguments that what Dinsdale filmed was a boat. I'm personally on the fence about the film.

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    1. I feel certain he filmed the back of an animal, having read his testimony. He was utterly sure about seeing an animal through his binoculars rather than any boat. Read his books, he leaves no doubt whatsoever. If you think he filmed a boat you're basically grouping him with Frank Searle.

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    2. Paddy, have you read Angus Dinsdale's book " The man who filmed Nessie " ? Remember Tim viewed what was not a boat through binoculars and described a blotch of colour on the animals flank. The first sequence does not look like a boat.
      Adrian Shine believes Tim was mistaken and indeed filmed a boat, he presented why in a video. Tim filmed a boat for comparison we all know. Sure it is up for debate since the Dinsdale film is at distance and of low clarity.
      Tim watched an animal through binoculars and was not impressed with the film footage compared to what he saw with his eyes that day. If you have not read Angus Dinsdale's book ( Tims son ) I highly recommend it.

      Whatever DNA Is discovered it will probably be interesting no matter what. Loch Ness is not your typical lake. I hope they obtain a silt sample or two because comparing silt against open water samples may enrich the study possibly.

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  17. Not sure about this? So lake Windermere produced 14 of the fish that inhabit the lake? What about anything else like frogs toads water birds or otters? And strange how it missed the lampreys!! Maybe it's because not many lampreys are in there unlike the other fish that are in there in there thousands. And if the salmon and trout and eels have travelled into the lake then surely the lampreys would too
    .at this early stage I get the feeling this DNA will only pick up things that are in the lake in huge numbers, I maybe wrong. And as someone pointed out the sheer volume of the water in the loch is going to hinder the whole thing. I have a feeling this test will never happen!! I also agree with someone above about the BBC sonar search... pointless!

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    1. My point exactly, no technique is perfect and may miss things.

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    2. I think we'll get a strong clue as to how worthwhile it is by seeing how many of the known species show up. If it's all of them, then it's a very valid test. If it misses some out then it's not really valid is it.

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    3. Then let's make up a list to check against the results:

      Artic Char
      European Eel
      Northern Pike
      Three Spined Stickleback
      Eurasian Minnow
      Atlantic Salmon
      Brown Trout
      Sea Trout
      Frogs,Newts,Toads,Perch,Roach,Dace,Rudd,Carp


      Otter
      Brook Lamprey

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    4. If you're going to include otter you should maybe include human DNA too. I was thinking more along the lines of animals permanently in the water all times of the year, so your list above minus salmon (if out of season) and otter. Also lampreys, I believe a parasite on fish, not to be included if they only have salmon as hosts and it's out of the salmon run season.

      That's my personal list of what will satisfy me. Glasgow Boy's list minus the above (dependent on season).

      All this fuss and it might not even happen. When are the dates?

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    5. I presume they will do it with the good weather this summer or perhaps before the tourist season descends in late June.

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  18. Henry, I have read Dinsdale's book. Several times over. Jack, I haven't read Angus' book. I will eventually. My point is that the film itself is inconclusive, it can be argued both ways. I had moved into the it's a boat camp several years ago based on the analysis done on a National Geographic documentary (I think it was called Is It Real?). But after viewing the film numerous times on The Man Who Filmed Nessie site I've backed off the boat theory. What my eyes see is that the blob that is alleged to be the helmsman only appears intermittently at the beginning of the parallel to shore sequence. I don't see it at all in the latter part of the sequence. I also see a similar intermittent blob at the beginning of that sequence - but several feet to the rear of the helmsman. Unless this blob is a water skier, which of course is highly improbable on Loch Ness, then these blobs may very well be film grain artifacts. That said, I can't go back to the it's the back of a monster camp. For me, the film is simply too inconclusive for me to come down on one side or the other. But it remains a fascinating piece of footage.

    And Henry I'm certainly not grouping Dinsdale with Searle. Searle was a faker. Dinsdale may have simply made an honest mistake.

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    1. I don't think he did make a mistake, and he doesn't even allow for the possibility. So certain was he that it was the back of an animal that there are only 3 possibilities. That he saw the animal he described, that he knew he saw a boat and lied, or that he didn't really know what he saw and lied about his certainty of it being an animal. So therefore he either saw an animal or was a deliberate liar of some sort. Having heard everyone's opinion of him and seen films of him describing it, I believe he saw an animal.

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    2. Given the size of the catchment area I'd expect a huge list.

      All the woodland animals, all the farm animals, all the birdlife, innumerable people, etc, etc.

      For example, if they fail to detect deer DNA or horse DNA or cow DNA that has to render the sampling flawed?

      Dumping abattoir DNA in the loch? Shouldn't need to as all that DNA should already be in there.

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    3. I would have thought livestock DNA was not persistent enough to detect,

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  19. There is a fourth possibility Henry: That Tim saw an object that looked to him like a humped back of an animal which he was convinced at the time existed. And yes Henry, in Dinsdale's accounts of his sighting he's adamant that what he saw was the back of an animal of some sort. I've highlighted all the paragraphs in his book - and there are several - where he states he could see the object clearly, that he looked at it carefully through binoculars, and that it was a sunny, clear day. All of this goes against the skeptic's arguments that Dinsdale filmed a boat under bad observation conditions (distance, light). So we now get the bit about Dinsdale having poor eyesight, the binoculars not being very powerful (despite Dinsdale's statement that they were adequate), and Ronald Binns' vivid speculation of what he thought really happened due to Dinsdale being in an exhausted, excitable state of mind. But here's the thing: none of the skeptics were there, Dinsdale was. But this is partly why I said it could be argued both ways.

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    1. So you're mostly in agreement with me... he either told the truth and saw an animal or he lied about the clarity with which he was viewing the object?

      I think we can discount the concept that he knew from the outset it was a boat and just told a huge whopper to fool the public.

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  20. A lot was made of the time and month ( 9am at the end of april) to which Tim saw what he saw. The skeptical side of it say it was dull and not very light. I have never inderstood this as its fully light at 9am at the end of april. In fact its the 12th of april today and i cycled to work at 6.30 this morning with no lights on.

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  21. It is a much talked about debate wether dinsdale filmed a creature or a boat ! And if it was a boat a much talked about debate wether he knew it so was a hoax or wether he made a genuine mistake. Well I just wanted to add my piece on this because I have visited the area in question as my gut feeling was he cudnt make a mistake with binoculars! I made a comment on another Nessie site after my first visit with 16 X binoculars then was told by dick raynor if I went again to go with 7x binoculars just like dinsdale had. I go to the loch 2 or 3 times a year so I took a pair of 7 x bino's the next time. I have to admit the view wasn't very clear from the area and it was hard to make anything out as the weather was bit duller than last time. My conclusion is that it is easy to make a mistake from this viewing point and easy to see things like colour and markings that are not there. So I believe dinsdale did not know he filmed a boat and believed he had filmed a creature
    If anyone disagrees that's fair enuf but I do say if u go to Loch Ness go and see for urself from the area he took the film. It's a good way from the loch. Another point to make is it was hard to keep the bino's dead still ( after a few tennents the night before) which from the distance u really need to do to get a good view. I should imagine dinsdale hands wer a bit shaky at the thought of sighting the monster he so wanted to see so I really think he was genuine. Roll on my next trip !

    .

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    1. Not sure how your description tallies up the lack of clarity he must've experienced with his total certainty about the clarity he viewed the object. He was vehement every time he spoke that he saw the animal's humped back VERY CLEARLY. It can't have been an innocent mistake. He either saw an animal as he said, or he saw a blurred object but then felt it would serve the world best if he stated categorically that he saw a very clear animal's hump. He backed this claim up with drawings, right down to a blotch on the side of the hump and a seam/ridge running down the back.

      So, it has to be the case that he either saw what he drew, or he lied about what he saw and drew what he thought he should've seen.

      To reiterate, I believe he was an honest man and saw what he drew.

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  22. I agree with Roy. I have seen many a thing on loch ness from a distance that look totally different when you see them up close.Things from a distance can play tricks on you.

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  23. The Dinsdale film was for many years the best evidence.
    However for many years the film was myth-like with only stills and a rare ocassional showing on TV unavailable. Detailed inspection by amateurs was impossible until the wonder of the interweb came along.
    Unfortunately the film doesn't stand up well as evidence of anything exotic in the loch in 1960.
    It's clearly a small powered boat, the bow wake is evident and even the propeller wash is visible.

    I hoped it would be inconclusive and I could hang on to it for old time's [ and old Tim's ] sake. But he was let down by his eyes and his all consuming passion for the monster, he saw and filmed nothing more than a small boat crossing the loch.

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    1. I continue to believe he saw the extraordinary humped back of a living animal. I've not seen anything that proves otherwise.

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    2. Interesting , nay, tricky use of language.

      I believe you believe Dinsdale thought he saw and filmed an unknown animal

      But, and you must agree, the film shows a boat ?

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    3. As stated, no I don't see that. I only see attempts to show it's a boat, but nothing that convinces me.

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  24. If he filmed a boat then why is the wake far longer and greater than the wake in the second film of the boat as it moves parallel to the far shore? The boat is roughly in the same place as the original and moving at roughly the same pace, so why is the wake much longer and greater than the boat?

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