Wildlife experts and locals were left confused and excited after a collection of unusual deep-sea creatures washed up on an east coast beach.
Examinations of the dead fish, which were discovered by a teenage boy on St Cyrus beach in Aberdeenshire, revealed 10 different species that inhabit some of the ocean’s murkiest depths.
The unexpected find included alien-looking fangtooth and two types of chimaera or ghost shark, which are rarely seen by human eyes due to living at depths plunging as far as 2km below the surface.
There were also viperfish, pink dory, black scabbard, lantern fish and hatchet fish.
Therese Alampo, manager at St Cyrus National Nature Reserve, which is run by Scottish Natural Heritage, says she couldn’t believe her eyes when conservation volunteers 15-year-old Jobrul Chamberlain and Bob Fitzpatrick brought her the weird and wonderful fish to identify.
“They’re always bringing me stuff to look at and we’ve had some rare wildlife sightings in the past but this is amazing,” she said.
“I’m still very excited. They had never seen anything like it and knew there was something interesting here, so they brought them back.
“We knew they were deep-sea fish but we didn’t know how they had come to be here.
“We’ve got this collection of deep-sea creatures, it’s absolutely incredible. There were about 15 fish in all.”
“My colleague Andrew Ferguson came from Aberdeen and we spent the evening recording and measuring them. I also got in contact with the Shark Trust, who were so helpful. They were also amazed and very excited about the chimaera in particular.
It turns out the fish had been taken to the beach by a marine scientist, who had caught them in deep water west of Shetland as part of a research project and taken them to St Cyrus to show to his children.
But the specimens got swept away by the sea, only to wash up again later.
Ms Alampo added: “People are fascinated by the marine environment, it’s such a mysterious world. Connecting with these creatures is magical.
“Seeing things from the deep ocean is especially fascinating. These fish are bioluminescent, they look like aliens, with their big eyes and weird bodies.
“It really is a dream come true for me.”
Pictures posted on the reserve’s Facebook page have already received 26,000 views.