DNA testing has found no evidence of the Loch Ness Monster's existence. However, the team did add that 'a lack of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence'.
Scientists have delivered disappointing news today to fans of the Loch Ness Monster.
DNA testing has found no evidence of Nessie's existence in the UK's largest body of water.
Researchers from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, on Thursday released the findings of a comprehensive study into whether the Loch Ness monster really exists.
Speaking at a press conference on the shores of the loch, geneticist Professor Neil Gemmell said: "Is there a plesiosaur in Loch Ness? No.
"There is absolutely no evidence of any reptilian [DNA] sequences in our samples. So I think we can be pretty sure that there is probably not a giant scaly reptile swimming around in Loch Ness."
Gemmell and his team did find large amounts of eel DNA in their samples. "Every single sample and site that we went to had eels and the sheer volume of it was a bit of a surprise. Now is it possible that what people are seeing is a giant eel? Well, maybe," he said.
"We don't know if the eel DNA that we are detecting is gigantic, from a gigantic eel, or just many small eels."
Lying along the Great Glen fault line, at its deepest point Loch Ness reaches a depth of around 220 metres (721 feet).
The water's dark colour is due to peat-staining from nearby stagnant bogs and means visibility is only 3 metres deep. The loch contains 8.3 cubic kilometres of water – more than all the lakes in England and Wales combined.
Tales of sightings of the mythical creature known as the Loch Ness Monster have captured imaginations for centuries but the invention of photography saw speculation mount and rumours gain momentum. One theory is that Nessie is a long-necked plesiosaur who somehow survived the extinction of the dinosaurs, while another posits that the "monster" is actually a sturgeon or giant catfish.
Gemmell did offer a shred of hope for Nessie hunters, saying that although the team found no evidence of a large, scaly, reptilian monster, "a lack of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence."