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Weather brings monster fish to Norfolk’s shores

18:04 28 December 2012

Paul Lee with the ocean sunfish washed up on Overstrand beach. Picture: Carl Chapman – Wildlife Tours and Education

Paul Lee with the ocean sunfish washed up on Overstrand beach. Picture: Carl Chapman – Wildlife Tours and Education

Archant

Weather conditions have been blamed for an unusual number of monster sunfish being washed up on the east coast of England, including Norfolk, this winter.

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Since November dead individuals have been found on the beaches at Old Hunstanton, Overstrand and in Lincolnshire at Skegness and Sandilands.

The giant marine creatures, the heaviest known bony fish in the world, usually lived in deep tropical waters and fed on jellyfish, according to Andy Horton, spokesman for the British Marine Life Study Society.

But they followed the jellyfish as they floated towards British waters and were often washed up on the Cornish coast, according to Mr Horton.

“Our prevailing winds are from the south west but we’ve had storms and winds that have been blowing them on to the east coast this winter. It’s nothing to do with global warming, it’s just the weather,” he added.

Mr Horton suspected there could be many more washed up on east coast beaches that were not discovered because bad weather kept people indoors.

A mature sunfish has an average length of 1.8m (5.9ft), a fin-to-fin length of 2.5m (8.2ft) and an average weight of 1,000kg (2,200lbs).

The Hunstanton specimen, measuring approximately 45cms by 35cms (1ft 5ins by 1ft 1ins) excluding its fins, was discovered on November 23.

The Overstrand fish was reported on December 9. Carl Chapman, regional co-ordinator for marine conservation body the Sea Watch Foundation, estimated that it measured 183cms (6ft) from fin tip to fin tip.

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