For a celebrity creature sought for nearly a century by an army of investigators it has proven annoyingly elusive.
But now new images of what has been claimed to be the Loch Ness Monster have emerged with one investigator hailing them as the “most exciting ever”.
The photographs were taken in 2018 but were kept secret as the photographer feared public ridicule.
Chie Kelly, who took the images and claimed the creature was moving at “steady speed”, was persuaded to go public following a high-profile search for the monster last weekend.
Mrs Kelly, a translator, said she and her husband Scott had been taking photographs of the area after having lunch in the Dores Inn, on the banks of the loch, while on a family holiday on August 13, 2018.
“I was just taking pictures with my Canon camera of Scott and our daughter Alisa, who was then five, when about 200 metres from the shore, moving right to left at a steady speed was this creature,” the 51-year-old said.
“It was spinning and rolling at times. We never saw a head or neck. After a couple of minutes it just disappeared and we never saw it again.
“At first I wondered if it was an otter or a pair of otters or a seal, but we never saw a head and it never came up again for air. It was making this strange movement on the surface. We did not hear any sound. There were these strange shapes below the surface. I could not make out any colours - the water was dark.
“I could not accurately assess its length, but the two parts that were visible were less then two metres long together.”
She added: “I don’t know what it was but it was definitely a creature - an animal. At the time I did not want to face public ridicule by making the photographs public.”
She showed the pictures to Steve Feltham, who has spent more than 30 years trying to solve the mystery, having quit his job and sold his home in Dorset in 1991, and he persuaded her to release the photos.
There was disappointment at the weekend when hundreds of people took part in what was hailed as the biggest search for the creature in 30 years.
Bad weather hampered efforts to launch heat-seeking drones, and after underwater microphones picked up four “strange” sounds, investigators realised they had forgotten to turn on recording equipment.
Mr Feltham said: “These are the most exciting surface pictures [of Nessie] I have seen. They are exactly the type of pictures I have been wanting to take for three decades. It is rare to see something so clear on the surface.
“They are vindication for all the people who believe there is something unexplained in Loch Ness. They are remarkable. I have studied them and still do not know what it is.”
While the first recorded sighting of the Loch Ness monster was recorded in the year 564, the legend rose to prominence in the 1930s, following a flurry of supposed encounters and huge media interest.
It followed hotel manageress Mrs Aldie Mackay reporting seeing a “whale-like fish” in the waters of Loch Ness, On April 14, 1933, and making the Inverness Courier. The story was quickly followed up by the national press.
The following year, the most famous image of the monster, known as “The Surgeon’s Photo”, was captured and published in the Daily Mail. For decades it was seen as evidence of the monster’s existence.
However, it was described as a fake by The Telegraph in 1975, and is now believed to have been created as part of an elaborate hoax.
St Columba, 565
The first recorded sighting of Nessie was in the biography of St Columba, an Irish missionary who played a key role spreading Christianity to Scotland.
When a water beast, who had already slain one man, attacked a second swimmer, Columba made the sign of the cross, ordered it back and it fled in terror. The encounter was said to have taken place in the River Ness, which feeds the loch.
The Surgeon’s Photo, 1933
The most famous image ever captured of Nessie shows a creature’s head and neck emerging from the loch. The fact it had been taken by a supposedly impeccible source, a physician named Robert Kenneth Wilson, bolstered its credibility.
However, it is now widely believed to have been a fake, with a model of a monster placed on a toy submarine, taken as part of a plot to dupe the Daily Mail.
The MacNab photograph, 1955
In July 1955, bank manager Peter MacNab captured something large moving through the water of the loch near Urquhart Castle. However, differences between the negative of the image and the print shown to the media raised questions over its veracity.
The Loch Ness Muppet, 1977
At the time, it was claimed to be the clearest photo ever of Nessie. However, it was taken by a magician and psychic who claimed to have “summoned” the monster from the depths of Loch Ness. Sceptics noted a lack of ripples in the water and it was soon dismissed as another hoax.
Gordon Holmes, 2007
In 2007, Gordon Holmes, a 55-year-old English lab technician, claimed to have captured the most compelling evidence of the fabled monster, this time on video.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this jet black thing, about 45-feet long, moving fairly fast in the water,” he claimed.
However, experts claimed it was likely a seal or an otter.