Operation Deepscan was the exciting moniker given to an 1987 attempt to settle the question of Nessie's existence through massive deployment of modern technology. A fleet of 24 boats, equipped with sonar equipment, advanced in a phalanx across the surface of the loch over the course of three days. By far the largest scientific endeavour undertaken on the loch, it attracted enormous media interest and viewers of national news broadcasts at the time were treated to sweeping helicopter shots of the flotilla's progress.
The results were - as always seems to be the case - tantalisingly inconclusive. The first day of scanning revealed that the sonar signals interfered with each other and so their sensitivity was turned down to a bare minimum. Despite this, three strong contacts were made near the shore opposite to Urquhart Bay. The objects were tracked at depths between 256 and 590 feet and were described as "larger than a shark but smaller than a whale."
Interviewed by ITN at the time, operation leader Adrian Shine described the signal thus:
"...possibly a larger fish... possibly a very much larger fish.. possibly something that would, ultimately, be compatible with the concept of 'monster'... and so, well, there is something going on in Loch Ness."
Amidst great excitement at such an auspicious start, the boats swept the loch again for a second day. This time, no objects were found - despite 5 boats being sent specifically back to the location of the first contacts. While this proved that the objects were moving - and therefore could not have been fixed topographical features - nothing else could be gleaned. A third and final day proved equally fruitless and Deepscan came to an end in disappointing fashion with nothing concrete to show for the expense and effort expended. Around 60% of the loch had been covered (the rest being too close to shore and the sides of the loch) over three days of intensive work and the three signals were the only tangential results.
Those involved in Deepscan were certain that the signals were not typical of those returned from large shoals of fish and that they represented something living. That aside, it was almost impossible to say what they represented.
Adrian Shine has since advanced the idea that the contacts could have been made by seals. While rarely spotted in the loch, the occasional seal has been found to have made its way into Loch Ness from the North Sea through the Inverness-Caledonian canal.
Author: Paul Carpenter | Last updated: 6th September 2013 URL: http://www.weirdisland.co.uk/animals/lake-monsters/operation-deepscan.html