A NEW Loch Ness Monster "sighting" has been snapped by a quick-thinking tourist after a recent surge in reports.
Karen Scott, 54, spotted an unidentified creature swimming in the Scottish lake while visiting from Aberdeen in November.
Unsure what to make of it, quick-thinking Karen snapped a few photos of the mysterious beast.
Now the images have been recorded as a positive Nessie sighting by the Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register.
Ms Scott said: "We were walking around Urquhart Castle sightseeing on a weekend away.
"I was just looking over the loch from the castle when I spotted something in the water.
"I initially thought it was a bird sitting on the water but my partner said it definitely wasn't.
"By the time I got my phone camera on it had slowly dipped under the water and then appeared again a short distance further away.
"That's when I took the photos. It then did the same thing again a couple of more times until it was much further away."
Karen's partner estimated that the creature was the size of a very large seal.
"But when we spoke to the guides at the castle they said it was very rare for a seal to be this far up Loch Ness so I don't know what it was," she added.
"I was quite excited, especially when I went onto the sightings website and found that there were similar pictures to mine."
Gary Campbell, who keeps the Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register, said that 2020 had been an unexpectedly strong year for fresh Nessie "reports".
He said: "As with everyone else across the planet, 2020 has been a very different year at Loch Ness.
"The primary tourist attraction, Urquhart Castle, would normally welcome in excess of 500,000 visitors but, as you would imagine, numbers have been severely curtailed by the Covid crisis."
Mr Campbell added that some sightings had been made by visitors using a live camera online.
He said: "We are lucky that many folk can join in the hunt from around the world via the Loch Ness Webcam and a number of the sightings have been reported via that medium.
"Nessie has, however, been seen in person throughout 2020 by some of the few visitors like Karen that made it to the loch and has also been spotted by local residents who live nearby.
"It's great to see that, notwithstanding a global crisis, Nessie still pops up from time to time, allowing us to be sure that when more people come back to visit, she'll still be there to welcome them."
Ms Scott is unsure as to exactly what she saw on November 24, but says if it was a seal it didn't move like one.
She said: "It didn't dive under the water but slowly went down under.
"It didn't bob about like a seal would do."
And she believes that, in any case, the Loch Ness Monster is out there somewhere.
"I do believe it exists but I'm not sure it's the same 'monster' from years ago," she said.
"Still, there is definitely something there that can't easily be explained."
Also in November, retired skipper Rod Michie, 77, came forward to claim he had spotted the Loch Ness Monster in 2015 on sonar after a mysterious shape was detected 600ft below the surface.
The image emerged just a month after a similar sighting.
It appeared to show either a 33ft-long Nessie, or simply a large shoal of fish.
Mr Michie's image was recorded on the Jacobite Queen in June 2015 off Urquhart Castle – said to be a favourite haunt of Nessie – at around 750 feet.
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