A bid to make Scotland's Loch Ness a World Heritage Site was launched on Thursday, as new footage emerged of the elusive mythical creature reputed to swim beneath the waters of Scotland's most mysterious lake.
Loch Ness Monster aficionados say the footage, captured by an amateur scientist, is among the finest ever taken of the fabled creature.
Loch Ness is surrounded by myth and mystery, as it is the largest and deepest inland expanse of water in Britain. About 750 feet (230 metres) to the bottom, it's even deeper than the North Sea.
Local tourism and business leaders are hoping to get special status for the loch and part of the surrounding area.
"Without doubt Loch Ness is known all over the world, it is almost an iconic tourism destination but there is no question that it needs to be protected it needs to be developed," said Graham Ambrose, Chairman of bid organisers, Destination Loch Ness (DLN).
"There has been this kind of feeling that it is all about the monster, but the area, not only is it an area of outstanding natural beauty, it has a rich social, cultural heritage. Everything from Thomas Telford, the hydro power, the General Wade's road, it is all there," he added.
There have been more than 4,000 purported sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, or "Nessie", since she was first purportedly caught on camera by a surgeon on vacation in the 1930s.
Since then, the faithful have speculated whether it is a completely unknown species, a sturgeon, even though they have not been native to Scotland's waters for many years, or even a last surviving dinosaur.
The latest video, taken on Saturday, was the handiwork of 55-year-old Gordon Holmes, a lab technician from Shipley, Yorkshire.
He said he saw a "jet black thing," about 45-feet (15 metres) long, moving fairly fast in the water.
Officials have said the video is particularly useful because Holmes panned back to get the background shore into the shot, meaning it is less likely to be a fake and able to provide geographical bearings.
The bearings would allow experts to calculate how big the creature was and how fast it was travelling.
Nessie isn't just an icon of the paranormal, she's also an emblem of Scottish tourism.
She has been the muse for cuddly toys and immortalised on T-shirts and posters showing her classic three-humped image.
The Scottish media is sceptical of Nessie stories but Holmes' footage is of such good quality that even the normally reticent BBC Scotland aired the video on its main news programme on Tuesday.
If successful, Loch Ness would join Edinburgh's old and new towns, the St Kilda archipelago and New Lanark among the 600 sites already recognised by the United Nations.
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