Letter: An open loch

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is indeed welcome news that Loch Ness is to be subjected to detailed surveillance by the latest in Norwegian sonar technology ('Sonar plumbs the depths in Loch Ness', 14 July). However, for your report to suggest that Loch Ness has previously been a 'scientific no-go area' is being economical with the truth.

Many aspects of the ecology of the loch were studied during 1977-78 as part of a scientific survey of the five largest freshwater lochs in Scotland undertaken by staff at the Edinburgh laboratories of the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology.

Their findings were published in 1981. Scientists from Lancaster University are engaged in a three- year detailed study of the plankton communities in the loch, in collaboration with staff from the Scottish laboratories of the Institute of Freshwater Ecology and with logistical support from the Loch Ness and Morar Project. Our work is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.

I know that several other university groups have also been carrying out scientific research into aspects of Loch Ness, including sonar studies of fish and larger zooplankton by Royal Holloway and Bedford New College and studies of the sediment by University College London.

Loch Ness is surely large enough, physically and in its scientific interest, to accommodate all the scientists who wish to study it. For Project Urquhart to suggest that it represents the first scientific survey of Loch Ness is both disingenuous and contrary to the spirit of scientific investigation. Yours sincerely,


Lancaster University