A grainy sonar image recorded by boat skipper Marcus Atkinson, on a sonar fish-finder device, shows what is being touted as a living "serpent-like creature" in Scotland's Loch. The "creature" was recorded at a depth of 75ft and it is about 5ft wide.
Loch Ness monster hunters are speculating that the image may help unlock a decades-old mystery.
According to Daily Mail, Atkinson's sonar fish-finder, which records the width and depth of objects directly below his tourist boat, produced the sonar image when the vessel was in the Loch's Urquhart Bay. The image showed a long moving object that followed the boat for more than two minutes.
The news of the image has caused excitement among Loch Ness monster enthusiasts and experts who have ruled out the "sighting" as being of fish, seal or debris lying underwater. Some are saying that the image is proof of an unknown creature in the Loch.
Atkinson, 43, native of Fort Augustus in the Scottish Highlands, said: "I was dropping customers at Urquhart Castle and then got my boat out of the way of the other tour companies. I moved out into the water and looked at the sonar and saw this image had appeared. The device takes a reading of the depth and what is below the boat every quarter of a second and gradually builds up a picture, so it covered a time of about five minutes. The object got bigger and bigger and I thought 'bloody hell' and took a picture with my mobile phone. There is nothing that big in the Loch. I was in shock as it looked like a big serpent, it’s amazing. You can’t fake a sonar image. I have never seen anything returned like this on the fish finder.It is a bizarre shape to me. I have shown it to other experienced skippers and none of us know what it was."
According to The Sun, Steve Feltham, 49, a "full-time Loch Ness monster hunter," said: “We know that there are no animals in the Loch that are as big as the image here. The biggest thing we see are seals which are nothing compared to this. It’s also totally unexplained and can’t possibly be fish because in water 75ft down you just wouldn’t find them. It’s very exciting and the best evidence we have had in donkey’s years. There is usually a mundane explanation yet no one has come up with one for this. There is definitely something in the Loch and there have been so many pictures and eye witnesses that there must be something. It’s images like this that will keep me going with my hunt for the next 20 years.”
But some marine experts have come up with "mundane explanations." They claim that the "serpent-like" creature could be algae in water. According to Daily Mail, Dr. Simon Boxall of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, said: "The picture is built up slowly as the boat moves.So it’s not a snap shot and thus the image is not an image of a single object unless it is very still. The image shows a bloom of algae and zooplankton that would exist on what would be a thermocline. Zooplankton live off this algae and reflect sound signals from echo sounders and fish finders very well. They will appear as a linear 'blob' on the screen, just like this. This is a monster made of millions of tiny animals and plants and represents the bulk of life in the Loch."
Boxall's "mundane explanation" may not satisfy "full-time Loch Ness monster hunters" like Feltham. The Sun reports that Marcus laughs off Boxall's explanation, saying: "I read my sonar everyday and I have never seen anything like that in the Loch before or since”.
According to The Sun, "Nessie" was first spotted in 1933 by a water bailiff and since then, there have been alleged sightings and photographs of the "creature." Some Nessie hunters have speculated that the creature could be one of a group of plesiosaurs that survived since the time of dinosaurs.
According to The Sun, Atkinson's image of the sonar screen image of "Loch Ness monster," taken by his mobile phone, has won first prize in the Best Nessie Sighting of The Year Award run bookmakers William Hill.