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Prize-hunters Trying to Find Loch Ness Monster - Again

October 6, 1990

DRUMNADROCHIT, Scotland (AP) _ Searchers equipped with sophisticated radar, sonar and cameras will be probing Loch Ness, beginning today, in a two-day hunt for its legendary monster and a prize of nearly $480,000.

It is the first major search for Nessie, as the fabled beast is known, in three years.

The William Hill Organization Ltd., national oddsmakers, have offered $477,500 to the first person or team to discover conclusive evidence of the creature’s existence.

A much smaller prize of $2,865 will go to the team or individual judged to have the best search method.

Four separate groups are taking part in the search, which is based at the village of Drumnadrochit near the northern shore of the Scottish Highlands lake. They range from serious contestants to publicity seekers.

Iain Bishop, deputy keeper of the zoology department of the Natural History Museum in London, will examine any evidence found on behalf of the oddsmakers. They stand to earn through bets placed on Nessie’s existence stimulated by publicity surrounding the search.

Andy Gray, 38-year-old managing director of a Scottish company called Oceanscan that supplies underwater sonar equipment for the North Sea oil industry, heads one team.

He said its members are confident that if there is anything to find, they will find it with their advanced underwater radar.

Loch Ness is 754 feet deep, 23 miles long and a mile wide.

A second group that calls itself the Rovers said it was using remote- controlled underwater vehicles fitted with cameras to try to track the monster.

Londoner Daniel Isted, 25-year-old editor of a corporate in-house magazine, said he will use what he called ″crystal divination,″ suspending a crystal over the inky waters from a yacht to try to find the beast. He said the crystal swings to indicate direction.

Former rock singer Screaming Lord Sutch, who as head of the Monster Raving Loony Party has unsuccessfully run for Parliament, said he too is hunting Nessie.

Skeptical locals, who have seen it all before, looked on Friday as the teams gathered. Television crews from the United States, Japan, France, Britain and elsewhere filmed the scene.

The last big hunt for the Loch Ness Monster was in October 1987, when Operation Deepscan searchers with sonars reported detecting a large ″fish- like arch″ at a depth of 450 feet at the southern end of the lake.

At the time, Deepscan spokesman Guy Pearse said the object registered a clear, large blip on the sonar, but it was gone when the boat scanned the area again.

The legend of the Loch Ness Monster dates from 565 A.D. when St. Columba, who converted Scotland to Christianity, castigated the creature for attacking a follower.

In modern times, there have been more than 4,000 reported sightings of the monster. Skeptics have explained them away as everything from waves, logs and rotting vegetation to otters, swimming deer and overindulgence in Scottish whisky.