A PHOTOGRAPH of a dark grey shape rising out of the water has been hailed as the clearest picture yet of the elusive Loch Ness Monster.
Loch Ness cruise boat operator and veteran Nessie hunter George Edwards yesterday published his photograph, which drew praise from a fellow monster expert, who described it as the best evidence that Nessie exists.
However, a rival monster hunter raised doubts about the shape in Mr Edwards’s photograph being Nessie, accusing him of faking a previous picture of the monster 26 years ago.
Mr Edwards, who runs Drumnadrochit-based Loch Ness Cruises, said he had taken the new photograph from his boat near Urquhart Castle at 9am on 2 November last year.
He explained it had not been published before, because he had sent it for analysis to check the object was not inanimate.
Steve Feltham, who has been searching for Nessie for 21 years from Dores, further up the loch, said: “It is the best photograph I think I have ever seen.
“I think the images are fantastic — that’s the animal I have been looking for all this time.
“I would say it doesn’t prove what Nessie is, but it does prove what Nessie isn’t — a sturgeon, which is a fish that has been put forward as one of the main explanations as to what Nessie could be, but this hasn’t got a serrated spine like the sturgeon.”
However, Adrian Shine, a naturalist and leader of the Loch Ness Project, had a different interpretation. He said: “It looks like the object is stationary in the water, and a matter of metres from the photographer, who is at a higher elevation. Looking at the texture of the water, the
object is about 2ft long, but it could be anything.”
Dick Raynor, who runs the Loch Ness Investigation website and used to work with Mr Edwards, has claimed a photograph Mr Edwards took of the monster in 1986 was a fake.
Mr Edwards said Mr Shine’s observations about his latest photograph were “his opinion”, and he dismissed Mr Raynor’s claims as “just lies”.
He said: “I don’t care. People can believe it or not. I know what I saw.”
Mr Edwards, 60, whose quest began in 1986, added: “It was slowly moving up the loch towards Urquhart Castle and it was a dark grey colour. It was quite a fair way from the boat, probably about half a mile away.”
He said he had watched the object for between five and ten minutes before it slowly sank below the surface.
He failed to trace it using the boat’s sonar, despite searching for at least half an hour.
He said: “I did not want to mention my sighting until I was sure I had not photographed a log or something inanimate in the water.
“I have friends in the USA who have friends in the military. They had my photo analysed and they have no doubt that I photographed an animate
object in the water.
“I’m convinced I was seeing Nessie, as I believe in these creatures.”
Gary Campbell, president of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, said the photo was “as good as the evidence gets”.
“It’s been taken by a local man who knows all the things that can appear in the loch that others mistakenly think is Nessie,” he said. “From this, it is an unknown animal in Loch Ness, which means it must be Nessie.”
Tourist businesses were delighted. David Bremner, a director of the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition at Drumnadrochit, said: “Any publicity for Nessie sightings is great at this time