I, like most other people, stopped believing in dragons, elves, giants and fairies before I hit double figures. They just didn't make sense, there was no real evidence to support these things. Show me a photograph and I will believe the monsters existed. There were no photographs, so I stopped believing.
The story of the Loch Ness Monster continued from then on. There have been a number of searches but none produced anything new. Some of the pictures have been proven to be a deliberate hoax, while others have been explained away as large catfish, groups of eels, otters, deer or birds. One theory is that an elephant escaped and lived in the area for a while. Others indicate trees, seismic waves or optical illusions. Given the strange shape of the loch, the depth and isolation it's easy to see how things can be interpreted as a huge monster. I wondered, and still do actually, if a prehistoric creature escaped the extinction of the dinosaurs and survived in Loch Ness. It has all the space it needs.
In 2018 an international team of scientists took 250 water samples at various depths throughout the loch, collecting all forms of environmental DNA for further analysis. They documented all aspects of life from fish and mammals to plants and insects, and set them against existing data. Unfortunately, nothing prehistoric was discovered.
Professor Neil Gemmell, a geneticist from New Zealand's University of Otago. said: "There's no shark DNA in Loch Ness based on our sampling. We can't find evidence of catfish or sturgeon either. There is a very significant amount of eel DNA...our data doesn't reveal their size, but the sheer quantity of the material says we can't discount the possibility that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness. Therefore we can't discount the possibility that what people see and believe is the Loch Ness Monster might be a giant eel."
Not everyone agrees, of course. Just another theory and there have been many of those.
Tourism and the silly souvenirs ensure the myth of Nessie will continue nevertheless. A good enough reason to visit the Loch Ness Centre and the dramatic terrain of the Highlands of Scotland. If you dare.