NEWS

2012-01-18

Piranha in Norfolk

A FEARSOME piranha-like fish which is more at home in deep Icelandic waters has been found washed up on a beach in Norfolk.

The scary looking sharp-toothed predator was found by dog walker Kelly Boldero on the beach at Old Hunstanton on Saturday. 

The 54-year-old took photographs of the 15-inch beast, which is actually a Ray's Bream,and posted it on social networking sites - eventually discovering that it was in fact totally harmless.

"Whilst doing a walk to help me lose weight and raise money for the local Lisa Wiles Red Wellies Charity on Old Hunstanton's beach, I came across a dead fish that looked more like a piranha than any other fish I had seen in British waters before," he said.

"The fish seemed to have a fluorescent blue look to it in the mud, but once washed looked rather plain.

"Inspection showed it to have small jagged teeth and a jawline reminiscent to that of a piranha, a fresh water fish not seen in these waters.

"I suppose it was 15-inches in length so no a small fry by any glimpse of the imagination.

  

"It looks pretty vicious to me."

Remarkably the rare fish was found just 800 metres from the site where a 55ft sperm whale was discovered on Christmas Eve.

The decomposing giant mammal, which is usually a deep sea creature, caused quite a stir in the local area - with people visiting the beach to take pictures of the beast and even using electrical tools to take teeth as souvenirs.

"The fish was found some 800 metres from the site where a whale had recently washed up," added Mr Boldero, who often walks along the coast of East Anglia in an effort to lose weight.

"I wondered if the smaller fish had followed the whale from the deeper waters and had got lost, but it seems it may be from a much larger shoal, with more fish still out there." 

Capable of growing up to 20-inches in size and boasting huge teeth, the rare fish have only been seen four times on British shores in the past 35 years and are more common to Iceland.

And Nigel Croasdale, Hunstanton Sea Life Centre general manager, said Ray’s Breams he can understand why people who see the scary-looking fish would think it was a piranha. 

"I came into work on Monday morning and an email popped up saying can I identify this fish," said the 46-year-old, who has been the Sea Life Centre manager for 16 years.

"The first time I saw it I thought 'what an earth is this creature?'

"They do have a piranha-like facial expression and look quite a scary fish. I understand why people call them saltwater piranha.

"They look vicious and have very sharp pointed teeth and look quite aggressive, but in reality it's not dangerous or harmful whatsoever."

Ray's Breams are known to swim in incredibly large shoals and Mr Croasdale says he believes they may have strayed into the shallow waters on a hunt for food.

"Fish all follow where there's food and that's probably why they've ended up here," he added.

"The chances are there are hundreds or even thousands of them out there. 

"You do find them in Iceland but their also quite widespread across the globe. They tend to favour deep waters."