Orkney residents have been left bewildered after thousands of rare fish were stranded on local beaches.
Atlantic saury are considered rare in Orcadian waters but over the last few days thousands of them have been stranded on beaches in Shapinsay and Finstown.
The fish seem to have deliberately swum ashore to die with residents reporting sightings on beaches including Elwick Bay in Shapinsay and the Bay of Firth at Finstown.
NatureScot’s Marine Sustainability manager, Dr David Donnan, explained that there are a number of possible reasons behind the strandings.
“Saury are known to occur in shoals close to shore and sometimes occur in large numbers.
“There are occasional records of saury being stranded – for example, there are records from Cape Cod area on the American east coast.
“There are a number of possible causes for stranding, including lack of food or poor weather conditions, such as extreme cold and stormy conditions.
“As well, sometimes saury may be pursued in shallow waters by predators. Therefore, it’s difficult to point to a specific cause in this case and that is not unusual.
“It’s probably more likely to be a natural cause than a human-induced one.”
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) confirmed they are aware of mass strandings of Atlantic saury fish on beaches at Shapinsay and Finstown in Orkney.
“A SEPA officer visited the Bay of Firth site in Finstown on Tuesday, December 12, and found no evidence of pollution.
“There have also been no recent reports of pollution events in the Bay of Firth or in Elwick Bay in Shapinsay.
“While it is difficult to conclude the exact reason for this occurrence, it was most likely a natural event,” a spokesperson said.
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