A former fisherman has discovered a trench in the bottom of Loch Ness that makes it 900 feet deep, that would be big enough for the mythical monster to live in.
Tourist sightseeing boat skipper Keith Stewart, 43, found the crevice in the loch, around nine miles east of Inverness, using state of the art sonar equipment.
His discovery raises questions as to how deep the world-famous loch really is, and given hope to monster fans that Nessie could be lurking down there with her whole family.
Britain’s deepest loch is Loch Morar, allegedly home to another elusive ‘water kelpie’ Morag at 1017 feet, while Loch Ness, the second largest, was measured at 813 feet deep.
Mr Stewart’s sonar mapping of the trench however revealed that it could be 889 feet deep.
Mr Stewart’s colleagues at Jacobite Cruises, which operates sight seeing tours down Loch Ness from Inverness, have christened the trench ‘Keith’s Abyss’, and he says it has whetted his appetite to look for more mysteries the huge water expanse may harbour.
‘I wasn’t really a believer of the monster beforehand,’ he said. ‘But two weeks ago, I got a sonar image of what looked like a long object with a hump lying at the bottom. It wasn’t there when I scanned the loch bed later.
‘That intrigued me and then I found this dark shape about half way between the Clansman Hotel and Drumnadrochit which transpired to be a crevice or trench. I measured it with our state of the art 3d equipment at 889 feet, which is 77 feet deeper than the previous recorded deepest point called Edwards’ Deep.
‘I don’t yet know how long it is. But I have gone back several times over the abyss and I have verified my measurements. It gets deeper from 825 feet to the recorded depth.’
Mr Stewart says he found the crevice just a few hundred yards offshore whereas previous sonar searches have concentrated on the middle of the loch.
‘Searches of the monster have also been in those areas as well as Urquhart Bay so maybe the local legends of underwater caves connecting Loch Ness to other lochs and perhaps even the waters of the east and west coast are true,’ he said.
‘Obviously it will need more research. But it is an intriguing prospect. It is possible that an underwater earthquake has opened this up in recent times because the Great Glen lies in a well known fault in the earth’s crust and tremors have been felt along it.’
Mr Stewart had previously used sonar equipment to map the depths of the world’s seas, but started working at Loch Ness in March.
‘I quit the open sea having been round the world and back using sonar equipment for years and decided to look for something more sedate,’ he said. ‘Being captain of the Jacobite vessel was something different and appealed to me.
‘I started the job in March but now this discovery has made my job even more interesting.’
Gary Campbell, president of Loch Ness Monster Fan Club and Registrar of Sightings said Mr Stewart’s discovery could provide clues as to the whereabouts of the Loch’s monster.
‘This just adds another dimension,’ he said. ‘We thought the loch was 810 feet deep and just had a 20 foot diameter hole at the bottom. Now we’ve discovered a whole trench that makes the loch nearly 900 feet deep which is twice the depth of the North Sea.
‘There could be more trenches which make it deeper. This looks like where Nessie and her whole family could really hide out and explain why they are rarely seen.
‘Remember, Loch Ness is part of a huge earthquake fault line that runs from Canada to Norway. In 2013, there was a 2.4 magnitude quake in the loch – this was when Nessie disappeared for a whole year for the first time since 1925. It could be that this massive tremor opened up the trench giving the monster a new hiding place
‘This now needs real research. No-one has done any real at the Loch for over 10 years. Lets get a submarine down to properly investigate the new monster trench.
‘This summer we hope someone will come to the loch with the best detection sonar in the world down to the depths just to see what is really at the bottom of the loch.’