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Robot finds Nessie film prop at the bottom of Loch Ness

The replica was made for 'The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes' in 1969.
Nick Summers, @nisummers
April 13, 2016
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Kongsberg Maritime

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An underwater robot has discovered a long-forgotten film prop at the bottom of Loch Ness. Back in 1969, director Billy Wilder was shooting The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, with Robert Stephens playing the iconic detective and Colin Blackely as his loyal sidekick Watson. Part of the film takes place in Scotland, with Watson sighting the mythical Loch Ness Monster. A model was built with a neck and two humps, but Wilder later requested that the humps be removed. The reduced buoyancy meant it sank to the bottom of the lake, where it's been resting ever since.

Fast-forward to 2016 and Kongsberg Maritime, a specialist in underwater positioning technology, has rediscovered the prop. The company was scanning with MUNIN, one of its many autonomous underwater robots, when it recorded an image of the 10 meter long replica. MUNIN uses a variety of sonar and camera equipment to produce high-resolution datasets at a depth of up to 1,500 meters. "Nessie" came up in one of its scans and Adrian Shine, who leads The Loch Ness Project, was able to confirm that it's the prop from The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.

"We can confidently say this is the model because of where it was found, the shape -- there is the neck and no humps -- and from the measurements," he told BBC News.

For Kongsberg Maritime, the discovery is "an unexpected bonus" as it works on a larger survey with VisitScotland and The Loch Ness Project. On its autonomous travels, MUNIN has also detected the wreck of an unidentified sunken boat -- so who knows what it'll find next. Maybe the real Nessie, lurking somewhere in the depths? We can but dream.

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