A holidaymaker has claimed to have spotted the elusive Loch Ness monster ahead of one of the biggest ever hunts to track down the famed beast this weekend.
Steve Valentine, 44, was left completely stunned when he saw a ‘black shape’ floating above the water as he and his family returned to the dock during a boat trip.
The father, from Urmston, Greater Manchester, was advised by the boat skipper to register what he saw as an official sighting – the fourth this year.
Mr Valentine, who had visited the Loch Ness Centre with his wife Maria and their children before the cruise, told The Sun: ‘There was nothing else on the surface of the water. All of a sudden I saw this black shape. It was a bit of a distance away, about 200 metres, near Urquhart Castle.’
He said he felt he had to take a photo of the black shape which he said looked like the ‘hump of the body and the back of the head’.
Steve Valentine, 44, was left completely stunned when he saw a ‘black shape’ floating above the water as he and his family returned back to the dock while on a boat trip
Mr Valentine was on the Deepscan vessel (pictured) which can take up to 12 people out onto the water to learn about Nessie
The Nessie hunter, who was on the Deepscan vessel which can take up to 12 people out onto the water to learn about the beast, added: ‘I showed the photo to the driver and he was quite taken aback. I am quite open-minded and I was genuinely shocked.’
It comes as Nessie enthusiasts prepare for the biggest hunt in 50 years to track down the Lock Ness Monster this weekend.
The Loch Ness Centre and the Loch Ness Exploration, an independent research team, will scour the waters for the beast using drones with infra-red cameras and underwater detectors in the biggest search since the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau studied the loch back in 1972.
Over the weekend, members of the public will be asked to keep a close eye on the loch for breaks in the water, movement, or even a sighting of its most famous inhabitant. Cameras have been set up along the shores, meaning people from across the globe can take part.
Meanwhile, drones using infrared cameras will capture thermal images under the water, and a hydrophone will be used to detect acoustic signals beneath the surface.
Paul Nixon, general manager of the Loch Ness Centre, said: ‘The interest in our weekend of activities has been fantastic, and to see how people from all around the world are still fascinated by the story of the Loch and Nessie.
Sturgeon’s Photograph: For 60 years this celebrated photograph of a long necked creature helped keep afloat the legend of the Loch Ness Monster
The biggest hunt to finally track down the Lock Ness Monster is set to begin this weekend, with Nessie enthusiasts from around the world expected to have their eyes on the infamous loch
‘We want anyone in the world to be able to help, which is why we are looking for budding monster hunters from anywhere to log in to the live stream of the Loch over the weekend and see if they spot anything mysterious.
‘We can’t wait to see what we find.’
So far this year, there have been four sightings, with one little girl’s photo of the elusive beast being branded the best picture in years.
Charlotte Robinson had been staying at the Loch Ness Highland Lodges at Invermoriston nack in 2018 when something popped up in the water 50 feet from the bank.
Grabbing her camera, Charlotte was able to snap a picture of a blob in the water which apparently surfaced for a minute before disappearing again, reports the Mirror.
Charlotte had been on holiday with her parents Kat and Dave when the incident occurred at about 7pm one evening.
Describing the moment she came face to face with ‘Nessie’, Charlotte explained she knew there had been ‘something’ there.
She said: ‘There was something in the water about 50 feet from the shore. I took a photo. It had a neck and head was in the shape of a hook.
‘I just took what I saw. It was black – I just don’t know how far it was out of the water. I’m not good at judging distances.
‘But after about a minute it disappeared and then came back up again in a different place. It was up for less than a minute the second time.
Charlotte Robinson at Loch Ness where she took a photo of what she thinks is the Loch Ness Monster
The grainy picture appears to show an object moving out of the grey water
Over the years there have been thousands of ‘Nessie sightings’ at Loch Ness
‘I kind of believed in Nessie, but I wanted to see the proof. I always imagined her as having a long neck and flippers. I have seen something but I’m not sure what.’
The photograph was rapturously received by the Nessie spotting community including long-time loch hermit Steve Feltham – who has spent the last 27 years watching the water.
Mr Feltham, 55, who holds the Guinness world record for the longest continuous monster hunting vigil of Loch Ness, said: ‘I am totally excited by this photograph – it is the best of ‘Nessie’ in years.
‘There is clearly a solid object in it and it is relatively clear. It warrants further study. There may be a mundane explanation such as a seal, but I have not heard of a seal in the loch this year.
‘For my money it is larger than a seal or an otter. It is a fantastic picture by Charlotte.’
Charlotte’s picture has drawn parallels with the the ‘Surgeon’s Photograph’ an infamous shot of Nessie that was eventually proven as a hoax.
In 1934, The Daily Mail published a picture by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson of what appeared to be a sighting of the Loch Ness Monster.
For 60 years this celebrated photograph of a long necked creature helped keep afloat the legend of the Loch Ness Monster.
It became known as the ‘Surgeon’s Photograph’ as Lieutenant Wilson was a Harley Street gynaecologist.
However, this photograph was actually of a modified toy submarine.
Now it’s alleged he was part of a plot to perpetuate the myth of the monster which began as a joke.
A holidaymaker captured incredible pictures of what looks like the Loch Ness monster from the hotel he was staying in a mile away
Hundreds of Nessie enthusiasts are gearing up to take part in the biggest organised hunt for the mysterious creature in 50 years
A general view of Loch Ness where drones with infra-red cameras and underwater detectors will be used in an attempt to track down the elusive monster
Merchandise on sale in a shop next to Loch Ness ahead of what is being described as the biggest search for the Loch Ness Monster since the early 1970s
A sighting on June 15 was photographed by a French tourist Etienne Camel, who said he and his wife Eliane witnessed a dark shape which was 15-20 metres (49 feet to 65 ft) long on the surface of the loch.
‘It was quite strange, I am a man of science so I never believed that the Loch Ness Monster is a prehistoric animal’, he said. ‘But when I was taking a picture I saw this long, long shadow. I called my wife over and we saw the shadow move.
‘It was 15-20 metres long and was about 150 metres away. It was quite strange and then it disappeared.’
In April, father-of-three John Payne, 55, was admiring the scenery from a window at guest house Foyers Roost, Inverness, next to the Loch Ness when he noticed some strange movement on the loch.
He took a picture of the scene, describing what he saw as ‘huge’.
‘It must have been something very large because we were about a mile away from the loch and I could see it clearly’, he said.
‘You wouldn’t have been able to see a bird or anything from that far away – it had to be something large. It was like a huge neck.
‘At first I thought it was a giant fin, but I know there are no dolphin or porpoises in the loch so I was thinking what the hell is this thing.
The first written mention of a monster in Loch Ness appeared in a 7th century biography, according to Britannica
‘It wasn’t like it was tied to anything, like a buoy, because it kept moving further away.’
Rumours of a strange creature living in the waters of Loch Ness have abounded over the decades, yet scant evidence has been found to back up these claims.
The first reported sighting of the monster is said to have been made in AD565 by the Irish missionary St Columba when he came across a giant beast in the River Ness.
An online register lists more than 1,000 total Nessie sightings, created by Mr Campbell, the man behind the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club and is available at www.lochnesssightings.com.
Many Nessie witnesses have mentioned large, crocodile-like scutes sitting atop the spine of the creature, leading some to believe an escaped amphibian may be to blame.
Native fish sturgeons can also weigh several hundred pounds and have ridged backs, which make them look almost reptilian.
Some believe Nessie is a long-necked plesiosaur – like an elasmosaur – that survived somehow when all the other dinosaurs were wiped out.
Others say the sightings are down to Scottish pines dying and flopping into the loch, before quickly becoming water-logged and sinking.