The head of the Loch Ness monster's fan club has denied suggestions that the animal is dead following just one credible sighting last year.
Published: 6:25AM GMT 06 Jan 2010
A new documentary examines the possibility that the monster might be extinct as its reported appearances become increasingly rare.
Gary Campbell, president of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, said only one sighting, made just off the Clansman Hotel on 6th June, 2009, was judged by him to have been a credible report.
And according to Mr Campbell such reports are increasingly rare.
He said: ""That's why were so relieved to have heard about this sighting.
"In June, when it was reported, nobody had seen anything for a year. If it hadn't been for that one, we would have been really, really worried.
"There is an embarrassment factor to seeing Nessie. The first thing people say to you is, 'Had you had a drink?'
"Ten years ago we had a lot of good sightings, but in the last two or three years, they have tailed off."
He added: "What we regard as a dependable sighting is very much down to the person who sees it.
"This was a local chap who knows the things that Nessie isn't - boat wakes, debris on the loch or seals in the summer. A local person will know what these things look like."
However, there were a number of "more dubious" sightings over the course of 2009. These included a sonar contact witnessed by "'Allo,'Allo" star Vicki Michelle and other cast members from the stage version of the popular BBC sit-com when they took a pleasure cruise on Loch Ness in May during the play's week-long run at Eden Court.
Their boat, the Jacobite Queen, picked up five mysterious arch shapes on its sonar between Dores and Urquhart Castle.
Also claiming a possible Nessie picture was data analyst Ian Monckton from Solihull who used his car headlights and the flash from his camera, to take a picture of what he thought could be the elusive monster while driving to Invermoriston late at night.
The 2009 episode "Death at Loch Ness" of the documentary series "MonsterQuest" looked at the theory that the Loch Ness Monster might be extinct.
In this programme researcher Robert Rhines' claim that Nessie, if it existed, may now in fact be dead and its corpse is lying somewhere at the bottom of Loch Ness is investigated.
To prove this theory wrong, Mr Campbell hopes new witnesses might come forward.
"If people start to believe this, it might start to affect tourist numbers.
"Whether you believe in Nessie or not, the Loch Ness Monster is one of the most important tourist attractions we have.
"Perhaps, though, the answers are to be found underwater instead of on the loch's surface.
"Unknown sonar contacts happen all the time.
"Maybe Nessie is just keeping her head down."