90 years after Loch Ness Monster first spotted, thermal drones survey Scottish lake in giant hunt this weekend

A view of the Loch Ness Monster, near Inverness, Scotland, April 19, 1934. The photograph, one of two pictures known as the 'surgeon's photographs,' was allegedly taken by Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson, though it was later exposed as a hoax by one of the participants, Chris Spurling, who, on his deathbed, revealed that the pictures were staged by himself, Marmaduke and Ian Wetherell, and Wilson. References to a monster in Loch Ness date back to St. Columba's biography in 565 AD. More than 1,000 people claim to have seen 'Nessie' and the area is, consequently, a popular tourist attraction. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
The best-know photograph of the Loch Ness taken in 1934. The image was finally proved to be a fake, when one of the perpetrator finally admitted it was an elaborate hoax in 1994 (Image credit: Getty Images)

90 years ago, the old Drumnadrochit Hotel was the location a Mrs Aldie MacKay reported seeing a whale-like "water beast" in Loch Ness, a sighting that created the birth of a global legend. This weekend the Scottish hotel, reborn as The Loch Ness Centre, will be host to the biggest surface watch in 50 years as enthusiasts and technologists come together to explore the waters.

We better hope Nessie isn't disturbed by the sound of fast-turning propellers, since one of the technologies being tried this time will be the best thermal-imaging drones, with thermal infrared cameras. 

The Loch Ness Centre (yes, that's how it's spelt) is planning on producing a thermal map of the entire lake which – it says – might provide the crucial component in identifying mysterious anomalies in the lake, together with the use of boats equipped with hydrophones.

Far be it from us to suggest that Scotland's most famous lake benefits more from the mystery than it would from any discovery, but it's not unreasonable to point out that a thermal camera on an aerial drone will only be able to penetrate a little way into the murky depths.

Those in the area and not choosing one of Scotland's famous whiskys as a means to induce a sighting might instead want to invest their cash in a £30 (about $38 / AU$59) per person tour of the Loch Ness Centre guided by a member of the Loch Ness Exploration volunteers. A full £45 (about $57 / AU$89) will buy you the opportunity to witness the hydrophone monitoring from the boats crossing the deep waters.

Alan McKenna, of Loch Ness Exploration, told UK newspaper The Guardian “It’s always been our goal to record, study and analyze all manner of natural behavior and phenomena that may be more challenging to explain." While Paul Nixon, of the Centre, is keen to point out that anyone can just pull up on the road next to the Loch and be part of the mystery.

If you're planning on joining the hunt, check the schedule at The Loch Ness Centre - where you can join in the hunt virtually. You might want to check our guides to the best thermal drones, or the best camera drones, or the best telephoto lens for wildlife photography. Failing that, it might be an interesting opportunity to make a documentary!

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Adam Juniper
Managing Editor

With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 

Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 

He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video and The Drone Pilot's Handbook