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Mysterious shape that looks a loch like Nessie

IS THAT a monster's tail, or might it be more accurately described as a tall tale?

An English zoologist is in little doubt. Jonathan Downes (50) believes that he has pictorial evidence of something very much out of the ordinary lurking in one of Ireland's most picturesque lakes last week.

Mr Downes, a cryptozoologist who investigates unknown species, was holidaying in Killarney when he captured the ambiguous shapes as he looked down on one of the area's famous lakes from a nearby hill.

The scientist maintained yesterday that he had previously heard of bizarre sonar recordings made in the adjoining Muckross Lake about five years ago, adding that he was "ridiculously" lucky to see anything.

"I was actually there with my wife and a friend on holiday," Mr Downes said.

"What we saw was a thing about 9ft to 10ft long.

"I'd love to say I saw long necks and humps and things but I didn't."

Mr Downes, who is director at the Centre for Fortean Zoology in Devon, went on to describe the object as "a long, thin eel-like creature" that was pale in colour.

"I believe it must be a large eel," he said. "What I saw didn't actually really come out on the picture as well."

The shape was spotted in the Upper Lake 10 days ago by Mr Downes and his wife, Corinna, who were almost a quarter of a mile away at a popular beauty spot.

"It was really sort of a calm day -- not much breeze or anything," she said.

"All of a sudden there were these swirls on the water.

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"It looked like something was breaking the water on top, you could see a torpedo-like trail."

But not everybody is buying into the Killarney Lake Monster theory.

Pat Foley, deputy regional manager of the National Park and Wildlife Service (NPWS) which oversees the national park, told the Irish Independent that there had been a similar story in 2003.

"That brought about great excitement in the area, and certainly didn't do the local economy any harm," Mr Foley said.

"A survey came back with some strange pictures of a large blob near the lake floor, and pretty soon we had a 'monster' on our hands.

"But it turned out to be a little bit more mundane than that. It was a shoal of Arctic char."

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