Myths and legends of giant monsters lurking in the murky water of Loch Ness date back more than 15 centuries.
But an academic from the University of Otago in New Zealand is ready to figure our whether there is any grain of truth to the legend of the Loch Ness Monster.
Dr Neil Gemmell plans to collect and scan 300 DNA samples from the Scottish loch to prove or disprove Nessie’s existence.
He said: “Over 1,000 people claim that they have seen a monster.
“Maybe there is something extraordinary there.”
Dr Gemmell and his associates will extract marine DNA samples from three different depth across the length of the lake.
The samples will be then shipped back to labs in New Zealand, Australia, France and Denmark to be analysed for signs of “monster DNA”.
The DNA samples will be compared against a database of all known species although Dr Gemmell said he is not holding his breath.
Dr Gemmell said: “I’m going into this thinking it’s unlikely there is a monster, but I want to test that hypothesis.
“What we’ll get is a really nice survey of the biodiversity of the Loch Ness.”
There are countless theories explaining Nessie’s mysterious existence.
Some believe the Loch Ness Monster is a long lost relic of the dinosaur era – a long-necked plesiosaur trapped in the lake.
Others argue Nessie is some sort of mystical, shape-shifting water horse or just some driftwood which was mistaken for a monster.
But local resident Adrian Shine is convinced Dr Gemmell’s study could contribute valuable data to his own research at the Loch Ness Project.
Mr Shine said: “I’m sure that some species will be found which have probably not been described.
“They’re more likely than anything else to be bacteria
“If you did find something else—and I do emphasise the if—then you would actually get quite a good handle on what sort of creature, what class of animal, it is.”
Mr Shine admitted just about anything out in the loch can be mistaken for the legendary monster.
He said: “Anything that you see on the loch that you don’t understand can be your Loch Ness Monster on that day.”
A total of 11 Nessie sightings were reported in 2017 alone – a record number of Loch Ness Monster sightings.
The earliest mentions of the Scottish creature date back to Saint Columbia who brought Christianity to Scotland in the sixth century.