Has a Scottish skipper finally found the Loch Ness Monster?

For approximately 1,500 years, stories of an aquatic beast living in Loch Ness have enchanted the Scottish Highlands. Now, a man who has searched for the mythical creature for 26 years claims that he has a photo proving that "Nessie" is real.

George Edwards believes he photographed the Loch Ness Monster swimming toward Urquhart Castle, which sits beside Loch Ness. Once the photo surfaced, it quickly went viral online, awing some and puzzling others.

The single image, which Edwards snapped with his digital camera in November and only recently released publicly, shows a large gray hump in the water. "I’m convinced I was seeing Nessie as I believe in these creatures. Far too many people have being seeing them for far too long," Edwards told the Inverness Courier.

The 60-year-old told the U.K. publication that he had the image analyzed by military personnel, who told him he had photographed an animate object in the water, not a log or other inanimate object. "That’s the animal I have been looking for all this time," Edwards said. "It is the best photograph I think I have ever seen."

However, in a story published by ABC News this week, he seemed to water down his previous assertion.

“In my opinion, it probably looks kind of like a manatee, but not a mammal,” Edwards told ABC. “When people see three humps, they’re probably just seeing three separate monsters.”

Still, he "felt good" to have captured the Loch Ness photo, even if it is not Nessie herself. "It reinforced my beliefs, and might help convince other people,” Edwards said.

“Lots of people have come up to me since the picture started getting attention, and telling me they’ve seen something similar,” Edwards added. "And there’s no smoke without fire, so there must be something in that lake.”

Benjamin Radford, Live Science reporter, is not fully convinced.

"Edwards' description of his sighting raises more questions than it answers," Radford writes. "For example, if he had the object in sight for five to 10 minutes, why is there (apparently) only one photograph of it? That's enough time to capture dozens or hundreds of photographs."

Radford also points out that there is no way to determine how large the object in the photo actually is. "Depending on how close it is to the camera," he explains, "it could be five feet long or 50 feet long."

Others who have viewed Edwards' Loch Ness photo pointed out that there are no ripples in the water, so the object in the water was probably stationary, likening the possibility that Edwards captured an overturned boat or a log and not the mysterious aquatic beast.

While the legend of Nessie has been around for over a thousand years, the modern version of the legend originates from a story published in the Inverness Courier on May 3, 1933. The paper recounted the tale of a local couple who claimed to have spotted "an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface" of Loch Ness, according to A&E's History Channel.

Loch Ness is a 23-mile-long lake with the largest volume of fresh water in Great Britain, reaching depths of 800 feet.