Giant Atlantic bluefin tuna washes up in Scotland, shocks beachgoers: It was an ‘impressive beast’

A strong storm likely caused a massive Atlantic bluefin tuna to wash up on a beach in Scotland over the weekend, creating quite a spectacle on the island of Sanday, Orkney. The body of the fish – one of the world's largest and fastest, according to National Geographic – was estimated to be about 6.5 feet long. Atlantic bluefins … Continue reading “Giant Atlantic bluefin tuna washes up in Scotland, shocks beachgoers: It was an ‘impressive beast’”

A strong storm likely caused a massive Atlantic bluefin tuna to wash up on a beach in Scotland over the weekend, creating quite a spectacle on the island of Sanday, Orkney.

The body of the fish – one of the world's largest and fastest, according to National Geographic – was estimated to be about 6.5 feet long. Atlantic bluefins live in both subtropic and temperate waters, the Massachusetts government explains on its website, noting it can travel across the Atlantic in less than 60 days.

"It was … a pretty impressive beast. At that size, it's going to be pretty fully grown," Emma Neave-Webb, a local ranger, told SWNS on Monday. "The fish looked pretty fresh, so I think the cause of death was natural causes."

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The warm-blooded Atlantic bluefin can swim at speeds up to 43 miles per hour, thanks to its "powerful" tail, National Geographic points out. They typically weigh around 550 pounds, though some have reportedly been recorded at 1,000 pounds or more.

The fish's size attracted a crowd of locals on Sunday — with many traveling to Bea Sand beach to view the sea creature.

Ranger Emma Neave-Webb next to the giant Atlantic bluefin tuna found washed up on Bea Sand on Sanday, Orkney,  (SWNS.com)

"Everybody's been amazed, it was a bit of a tourist attraction," Neave-Webb said. "It's been the talk of the island for the day, but we're hoping to go back … to weigh it and dissect it for any signs of plastic pollution."

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It's not the first time a giant Atlantic bluefin has been spotted in the country.

"It's the third case of a bluefin tuna washing up in Scottish waters this year," John Hourston, founder of a volunteer group called the Blue Planet Society, told SWNS. "Bluefin tuna have only recently returned to British waters since around 2013, but it's extremely rare for one to be washed up in Orkney."

One of the most recent sightings of the rare fish was in October. At that time, a 6-foot-long Atlantic bluefin washed up in Fife, weighing around 245 pounds, The Scotsman reported.

While locals admitted it was a sad discovery, some fish experts were hopeful it was a sign the fish was making a comeback in the area.

“It’s sad this one has washed up dead but hopefully this is a sign that they are making a return as there have been a number of sightings in the North Sea and off the west coast of Scotland," Jonathan Louis, operations and development manager for the Forth Rivers Trust, told the Scottish newspaper.

Jennifer Earl is an SEO editor for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @jenearlyspeakin.

Japanese ‘tsunami fish’ found off the California coast seven years later

In March 2011, Japan experienced a massive tsunami that was the aftermath of a 9.1 earthquake, the largest the country has ever experienced. It resulted in the deaths of an estimated 29,000 people and caused approximately $235 billion in damages, making it the deadliest natural disaster in history.

While the aftermath of the devastating events may have left a lasting impact on the Japanese population, it also upended a great number of marine life, including rerouting the barred knifejaw nearly 5,000 miles from home.

Divers have recently found the barred knifejaw, a fish native only to Japan, swimming in the waters of Monterey Bay, Calif., according to CNN. The fish, known for its zebra-like appearance (it has black and white stripes), has been spotted several times in the area and likely emigrated halfway across the world because of the 2011 natural disasters.

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"It can't be mistaken for any local fish," said diver Nicholas Ta, who has been in the area nearly every day for five years. "Other fish are kind of camouflaged and they kind of match the environment around them," he told the news outlet.

According to a 2017 study in the journal Science, researchers believe 289 species were transported over the span of six years due to the 2011 East Japan earthquake and the subsequent tsunami.

"Most of this dispersal occurred on nonbiodegradable objects, resulting in the longest documented transoceanic survival and dispersal of coastal species by rafting," the study's abstract reads. "Expanding shoreline infrastructure has increased global sources of plastic materials available for biotic colonization and also interacts with climate change–induced storms of increasing severity to eject debris into the oceans. In turn, increased ocean rafting may intensify species invasions."

This approach is backed up by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), which wrote they were "most likely" introduced to the area by means of "rafting on tsunami debris."

The first barred knifejaw was originally spotted in December 2014, but Ta did not recognize it. It was only later, after his friend Dennis Lewis helped him identify the fish and alert him to be on the lookout for it in the future.

Known as Oplegnathus fasciatus, the barred knifejaw is exceptionally valuable in Japan both for food and as a game fish.

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The USGS said that the barred knifejaw breeds from April to July and the juveniles float among seaweed and eat zooplankton. Adults, which have sharp beaks, feed on snails and barnacles.

It's unclear what the impact of the species is in the new ecosystem, "as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range," the USGS added.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

Mysterious sea creature draws ‘alien’ comparisons with its sharp teeth, spiky skin

Hanna Mary was strolling along a beach with her mom and pup close behind when she spotted what she first believed was plastic sheeting. After a rough storm hit Canterbury, New Zealand, last week, Mary anticipated piles of "rubbish" would wash ashore.

But when she inspected the bizarre-looking object Saturday at a Rakaia Huts beach, shrieking after she realized it wasn't just another piece of trash — it was the skeleton of an "alien"-like critter.

"When I pulled it out and saw all the teeth and barbs I was convinced it was a rare deep sea creature," Mary told Fox News. "I was so excited because I love the ocean and it's inhabitants."

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Mary snapped several photos of the mysterious creature, capturing it at all angles. She then turned to social media in hopes of determining what type of species it was.

"Can anyone help identify this fish/ray/alien I found washed up at Rakaia Huts???" she inquired on Facebook.

Dozens of people offered suggestions — from a flying squirrel fish to a saw shark.

Hanna Mary posted photos of the creature online, hoping to identify it. (Hanna Mary)

"Alien definitely alien," one user replied.

"I don't know, looks blood creepy," another wrote, in part.

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With its wings, small fins on its back, two "legs" on either side and "barbs all over" that look like teeth, Mary had to partially agree with her followers that it was definitely unusual. That's why she decided to take it to a local taxidermist, though he wasn't able to confirm anything.

Malcolm Francis, a fisheries scientist and marine ecologist at National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), told the New Zealand Herald it's a New Zealand rough skate, also known as a Dipturus nasutus.

"They are called rough skate because they are very prickly … it's quite common in Canterbury," Francis, who has been studying fish for more than 40 years, told the newspaper. "It's like flat shark, it has a skeleton made out of cartilage. They spend much of their time on the bottom."

A marine scientist believes it’s a New Zealand rough skate. (Hanna Mary)

Francis said he was able to determine the rough skate was a male based on it's "legs," which aren't actually legs at all.

"They look like a legs, but they're not," he explained. "They are used to help the male hang onto the female when they are mating."

Mary said many social media users also believe it's a rough skate. However, she hasn't received any confirmation in person thus far. She's planning to take it to an expert for further testing.

"I'm just not sure what to do with it after," she admitted.

New Zealand rough skates often hang out in depths up to 700 feet. (Hanna Mary)

New Zealand rough skates can grow up to nearly 3 feet and typically swim about 700 feet below the ocean's surface, according to Talley's Group, a New Zealand-based agribusiness company. The company noted the species is "considered a delicacy" in the country.

Known for roaming the deep sea, Mary isn't sure how the creature's body made its way to the surface — but she's glad it did.

"Every day [the ocean's] getting more and more destroyed so it's great people get an opportunity to see one of its creatures that they normally wouldn't get to see," she added.

Jennifer Earl is an SEO editor for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @jenearlyspeakin.