LONDON - As Scots prepare to vote for or against independence, the Loch Ness monster's thoughts remain typically shrouded in mystery and there are fears he may have already made up his mind.
"Nessie" has given locals in northern Scotland the heebie-jeebies for centuries, but there was mild panic when a photograph appeared to show the aquatic giant frolicking in a lake south of the border, 210 miles (317 kilometres) from home.
The snap, taken at Lake Windermere in northern England's Lake District, is open to interpretation but could show a dinosaur-like creature with a long neck and humped back swimming near the tree-lined shore.
Brushing off suggestions that the photo may not be completely reliable, the Daily Mail presented the photograph last week as proof that the reclusive and long-time Scottish resident was voting with his flippers in a "blow for the 'Yes' vote".
"First the banks threaten to flee an independent Scotland, now it appears the Loch Ness Monster has relocated south of the border!," said its headline.
For the Daily Star, the sighting suggested that "the country's most famous animal might have already made up its mind."
'Not a political animal'
But Tony Harmsworth, monster expert and author of "Loch Ness Understood", said the rumours "are obviously not true".
For a start, Windermere does not boast the creature comforts of home, explained Harmsworth.
"Lake Windermere is not as deep, not as large, not as cold, does not have the same food chain and has far more boat traffic, so I don't think 'Nessie' would be too happy there," he said.
Also, "Nessie" - whose very name suggests a compromise between the rival "No" and "Yes" camps - is "not a political animal", and is more preoccupied with traditional beastly pursuits, Harmsworth said.
But this neutrality has been called into question by another photograph showing the legendary monster forming the word "NO" with his tail, although it seems doubtful that the snap in question will stand up to forensic assessment.
Nevertheless, the Daily Mirror said the photograph had delivered an "unlikely boost" to the "No" campaign.
Steve Feltham, self-declared "full-time Loch Ness Monster hunter since 1991", slammed the reports as "a desperate attempt by the national newspapers to paint the 'Yes' campaign as a negative thing."
"Nessie is one of the iconic symbol of Scotland," he told AFP.
"You've got whisky, you've got mountains and you've got the Loch Ness Monster.
"It's a specifically Scottish mystery and has got no connection with England," he explained.
"I would have thought that 'Nessie' would actually be in favour of independence for Loch Ness. It's the only world he knows."
Others would argue that the creature is in fact one of the thousands of undecided voters who could swing the election result for or against separation in Thursday's referendum.
There have been no official sightings in Loch Ness since 2011 - just two months before the British government granted the Scottish parliament the powers to organise a referendum.