A new photo showing a mystery creature swimming in Loch Ness has sparked new interest in Nessie, the long-necked plesiosaur-like cryptid rumoured to inhabit the loch's dark and enigmatic depths.
There's just one big problem, and you can probably guess what it is. The image has been digitally manipulated.
According to an investigation conducted by the Loch Ness Mystery blog, the image first appeared in mid-June in a Facebook group, posted by the group's founder, Steve Carrington.
It was taken, he says, when he visited Loch Ness in September 2019. As he was taking photographs, he claims to have spotted a ripple in the water, followed by the appearance of an aquatic creature - which he claims to have captured in one of his photos.
"I have to say I don't believe in the Loch Ness Monster and frankly I think if anything is there then there is a logical explanation for most of the sightings," he was quoted as saying by the UK tabloid The Mirror.
"My guess would be that what I captured was a catfish or something like that."
As it turns out, the animal pictured is indeed a catfish!
Specifically, this catfish - a wels catfish (Silurus glanis) captured in the river Po in Italy by anglers Benjamin Gründer, Kai Weber, and Marcus Brock in 2018. It was an absolute behemoth, clocking in at an estimated 130 kilograms (286 pounds) in weight, and 268 centimetres (105.5 inches) in length.
Imagine having this 286lb monster on the end of your line! This incredible catfish was landed by Benjamin Gründer after a lengthy fight. #Monster #Catfish #Angling #Fishing pic.twitter.com/pjPCsAbc6X— Angling Times (@angling_times) March 1, 2018
The fun thing about catfish is that the pigmentation patterns on their backs are unique, like a fingerprint.
As eagle-eyed Twitter users have already pointed out, the pattern on the back of Carrington's creature is exactly the same as the pattern on the back of the catfish caught in Italy. Oops.
Can't believe we gotta say this, but the loch ness monster picture is fake. Compare these unique patterns here pic.twitter.com/shG5dVAXGr— yo (@supahflylol) June 24, 2020
According to the Loch Ness Mystery blog, Carrington works as a 3D artist. We were unable to verify that claim, but it's pretty much moot, anyway. The blog's author also ran a careful eye over images claimed by Carrington to be hot from his camera, noting the metadata tell a very different tale.
Even if the photo wasn't so obviously… um, tampered with, the idea that there could be giant catfish swimming in Loch Ness - one of the theories floated to explain Nessie sightings over the years - was debunked last year. An in-depth survey of the loch's water found no trace of catfish DNA whatsoever.
That's not to say Nessie doesn't exist, of course - it's not easy to prove a negative. But if you're looking for proof, this ain't it. You're just going to have to keep looking.