It seems the cryptozoology world just can't let Bigfoot have all the fun this month: the Loch Ness monster just made an "appearance" in HD! While ol' Nessie looks unequivocally like a trio of cavorting seals, the internet's response to the photo has been just wonderful.
"Some People Think This New Photo of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ is Totally Legit" | enough internet for today https://t.co/XDxxJrkGum— David Shiffman (@WhySharksMatter) September 17, 2016
I am 100% convinced of the new Loch Ness monster evidence. I'm sat here looking at the photo with my Area 51 mug and Bigfoot onesie.— David Bedwell (@DavidBedwell) September 16, 2016
You idiots, The Loch Ness Monster WANTS you to think it's just 3 seals playing in the water.— Poorly Drawn Turtle (@NoTheOtherJohn) September 16, 2016
So Corey Feldman, the Loch Ness Monster & birtherism are trending.— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) September 16, 2016
And...yep, there goes the Trumpet of Gabriel. Gonna start drinking.
@NaimShaw loch Ness monster is real, Tupac is still alive, OR the earth is flat. Not sure what do you think— Jacklemore™ (@limpdeuces) September 19, 2016
The image was captured by amateur photographer Ian Bremner, who was missioning around the Scottish Highlands in search of red deer when he found himself in the right place at the right time. Whether we're looking at a composite image of one seal's bounding behaviour or a perfectly timed photo of three pinnipeds remains to be seen, but we're calling "case closed" on this lake monster sighting.
What would seals be doing in a freshwater lake? Loch Ness is actually connected to the ocean by both the River Ness and the Caledonian Canal, the result of the island splitting and coming back together millions of years ago. As autumn begins to take hold on the Scottish wilderness, Atlantic salmon flock to these rivers to spawn, and while the journey is a long one for sea-faring mammals, it's possible the seals came in search of fishy food.
Over in Canada, harbour seals (which are common in Scotland) have a well-known habit of exploring freshwater tributaries, and some populations regularly swim an impressive 300 kilometres up river. Bremmer's image, on the other hand, was snapped some 16 kilometres from the Moray Firth, an inlet of the North Sea.
This isn't the first time a harbour seal has turned into the infamous lake monster. Reports of pinnipeds in the area date back to the early 1930s. In fact, between 1984 and 1985, one harbour seal set up shop in Loch Ness and stayed put for over a year! The animal was sighted nearly 60 times by tourists and local scientists.
Top header image: Erik/Flickr