A dedicated Nessie hunter claims he has solved the mystery of the Loch’s elusive monster after a 24-year vigil.
Steve Feltham has been patrolling the Scottish beauty spot for almost quarter of a century, even setting up home in a caravan on the edge of the loch.
But the 52-year-old now believes the giant creature which haunts the misty waters is not an unexplained monster, but rather a sizeable wels catfish.
Steve Feltham in his home for the last 24 years - an ex mobile library van parked on edge of Loch Ness
Feltham believes the breed – which have been known to grow up to 15 feet in length and reach weights of up to 660 pounds – was introduced to the loch by the Victorians.
Speaking to The Times, Feltham explains that the main sightings of Nessie began in the 1930s – at which point the catfish will have been reaching maturity.
He said: “I’ve had to change my mind slowly over time, but what a lot of people have reported seeing would fit in with the description of the catfish with its long curved back.
The iconic picture of 'Nessie'
“I have to be honest. I just don’t think that Nessie is a prehistoric monster.”
Feltham’s lengthy quest to find the creature has seen him recognised by the Guinness Book of Records for the “Longest Continuous Vigil Hunting for the Loch Ness Monster.”
The waters of the Loch are said to have been haunted by the serpentine Scottish beast since 1933.
Believed by many to be the last of a line of long-surviving plesiosaurs, (a Jurassic marine reptile) legend has it that the creature appears along with earth tremors and swirling bubbles.
The wels catfish has been known to grow to a length of 15ft
Nessie first hit headlines in 1934 when the Daily Mail published what it claimed was the first picture of the beast.
The photo was later revealed to have been staged, but there has been no shortage of images since.
The wels catfish is the largest freshwater fish in Europe and it can live for decades, possibly even as long as 80 years, the National Geographic reveals.
In February twin Italian brothers caught a 9ft long wels catfish in the Po River of northern Italy.
The animal was dubbed “the monster of the Po” by the Italian media, the Telegraph reports.