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The Feeding Habits of Nessie
by
Richard Carter
If we could find the answer to two questions relating to the Loch Ness Monster we would probably be able to solve the mystery in a relatively short time. The questions would be what does the creature eat and how.
Answering these questions we would know where to concentrate the search and give us an idea of what we are looking for.
Could Nessie live on zoo-plankton as there are large quantities of this in the Loch, more concentrated at the northern end? I suppose the biggest argument against this is that most zoo-plankton eaters like the basking shark and other members of the whale family have gills that enable them to sift zoo-plankton just by swimming around. This of course goes against all the sightings when they are seen to be chasing fish around. Fish would be the obvious food source for any creature living in Loch Ness, but when we look at the fish counts done on the loch they vary from 1 ton to 27 tons. The Discovery Channel estimated 1 ton of fish in the loch. This was a very misleading figure as they could only trawl the centre of the Loch to a depth of 100 feet. The Loch Ness Project estimates around 27 tons of fish in the loch, but this does not include the eel population.
A new approach by the Loch Ness Project is to study the zoo-plankton then calculate how much fish it could support using known feeding diets of the lochs fish life.
So, if Nessie feeds on fish then she must feed in the top 15 feet of water using natural light or her eyes could be like owls which contain more cones than rods which collect as much light as possible. Below this level she would need some other form of detection to catch her prey. This could be the use of lateral lines which fish use to shoal and detect attack by predators.
The amblyopsis cave fish of Central America not only have lateral lines but have exposed neuromasts, the hair like projections which are extremely sensitive to low frequency vibrations, on their heads and bodies. With this system, Nessie could catch her food and live in complete darkness. Of course she could just sit at the river mouths and feed on the salmon who must wait for the river temperature to reach around 40 degrees fahrenheit so they can move up stream to their spawning grounds. Nessie of course could be nocturnal and again either system could apply.
The other form of detection could be the use of sonar like members of the Dolphin family use, but I feel that with the amount of sonar work carried out on Loch Ness, she would have been heard by now. The hydrophone has been used on Loch Ness and in the early 1970's strange noises were recorded, but no results have been published as to what they may have been. I tried a hydrophone on the Loch, but without any luck I'm afraid. I think it would be interesting to station one in Urquhart Bay, one at Invermoriston and another at Fort Augustus and leave them for a month just to see if any strange noises can be picked up from these sites.
Hopefully one day if a sponsor steps in or some combined effort can be made, we may be able to try this


Robert Rines
Robert Rines (continued)
Tim Dinsdale
Richard Carter
Nessie Lookalikes by Richard Carter
Map of Loch Ness

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April 1999
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