Nearly 1000 feet deep and 24 miles long, Scotland's Loch Ness is believed by many to be home to the unidentified aquatic creature affectionately dubbed "Nessie."

Nessie is certainly one of the most-sighted monsters in the world. At the age of 63, Nessie), is the object of sonar searches of the Loch, and/or is exploited by public relations people cashing in on her ability to attract the international mass media. And there are new sightings of the old girl every year.

If Nessie is proven to exist, British bookmaker William Hill faces a payout of over £1 million (over US$1.5). Nessie might be worth over a million to those who gamble on her existence, but to Scotland the monster has been worth millions a year as its premiere tourist attraction. Nessie has certainly come a long way since her birth in the 1930s.

There are many negatives in the search for lake monsters. Despite many credible eyewitness sightings, no live monsters have been caught after innumerable attempts in their respective lakes. No carcasses have ever been found that might be anything other than recognizable animals. It is a fact that giant nets, submarines, underwater cameras, sonar, and loch-side crews of observers have all failed to come up with the solid evidence that will prove to the world that there is a Loch Ness Monster.

On the other hand, the great number of eyewitness sightings--which show no signs of abating--make it hard to easily dismiss Nessie, who remains the Queen of all lake monsters Loch Ness Monster

Fact: The first recorded sighting of the Loch Ness Monster was in 565 AD by St Columba. In fact St Columba saw the monster twice in that year.

Loch Ness Monster Fact: The monster was first seen in the River Ness before becoming more closely associated with the loch.

Loch Ness Monster Fact: The next reference to the monster was in 1933 when Mr and Mrs Spicer reported seeing a large animal crossing the road in front of their car.

Loch Ness Monster Fact: Nessie is usually described as having a small head, long neck, broad body, four flippers and a long tail.

Loch Ness Monster Fact: The scientific name for the Loch Ness Monster is a plesiosaur, which is a type of carnivorous aquatic, usually marine, reptile.

Loch Ness Monster Fact: The Loch Ness Monster cannot be a mammal as it does not have to breathe air. If it needed to surface in order to breath air it would most probably have been seen by many before now.

Loch Ness Monster Fact: Nessie is the most famous cryptid in the world. The word 'cryptid' is used in cryptozoology and refers to a hidden creature or living creature which might exist. This should not be confused with unreal or mythical creatures. For a beast to qualify as a cyrptid there needs to be some form of evidence of existence. This can mean being mentioned in folklore or that there have been 'sightings'.

In 1975 the Loch Ness Monster was given a new, scientific-sounding name by Sir Peter Scott, son of the famous explorer, Robert Falcon Scott. He named it Nessiteras Rhombopteryx or "the Ness wonder with the diamond fin". Sceptics pointed out this was an anagram of "monster hoax by Sir Peter S", a comment which was later countered by Dr Robert Rines, of the American Academy of Applied Science and leader of a major survey of Loch Ness, who responded with "yes, both pics are monsters, R". The public affectionately shortened the name to "Nessie".

The first picture of Nessie was taken near Foyers by Hugh Gray on 12 November 1933. He saw an object rising two or three feet out of the water, creating a certain amount of disturbance and took five photographs.

The most famous photograph of the monster was taken in 1934 near Invermoriston by Dr Robert Kenneth Wilson from London. It shows a head and long neck rising out of the water, the only picture to do so, and was published in the Daily Mail. Dr Wilson refused to allow his name to be associated with the photo so it became known as the "surgeon's photograph". In fact some 60 years later it was revealed to be a hoax.

Another famous hoax occurred in December 1933 when big-game hunter, Marmaduke Wetherall, was hired by the Daily Mail to find the monster. Finding the task harder than he had anticipated, Wetherall was delighted when he soon found a series of enormous footprints. Casts of the prints were sent to the Natural History Museum in London but were found to have been made by an ornamental hippopotamus foot. Wetherall's find was obviously discredited but what is not clear is whether he actually planted the prints himself or was taken in by some other hoaxer.

In 1959 an Italian journalist claimed he had invented Nessie in 1933. Francesco Gasprini was the London correspondent of a Milan newspaper and found himself a little short of news. He read a couple of lines in a Scottish paper about two fishermen finding a strange fish and exaggerated it into a monster. He claims he also invented some eye-witness accounts and had drawings and photographs published. Gasprini planned to then kill off the monster, or to have it escape from the loch, but the press ran away with the story and the rest, as they say, is history.

In 1976 an attempt was made to lure Nessie to the surface of the water by throwing bacon out of a hot air balloon on to the loch below. For reasons unknown she did not appear.

In 1997 the American film production company RLP Entertainment of Las Vegas claimed they owned the copyright to the name 'Nessie'. Their aim had presumably been to promote their animated film of the same name but the claim was of course challenged by Gary Campbell, president of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, based in Inverness. Mr Campbell claimed that as the name had been in common usage for many years it could not actually be owned by anyone.

The Thatcher government of the 1980s considered having Nessie safeguarded by law as a protected species.

The name 'Nessie' comes from the Gaelic 'An Neassidh' meaning 'female of the Ness'.

In 2001, on 3 September, Kevin Carlyon, the high priest of British white witches cast a spell on Nessie protecting her from harm. He wore long red robes and a pair of trainers. In 2006 Kevin Carlyon was awarded the lifetime title of Official Protector and High Priest of Loch Ness by Scottish witches.

Nessie may be protected from harm; she has herself never caused harm to anyone since St Columba's encounter with her in 565 AD.

Many pitures, sonar reading, and sightings have taken place over the years so the burning question is

IS NESSIE REAL .........................................................