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Last Updated: Monday, 5 November 2007, 17:40 GMT
Piranha-like fish found on beach
Ray's bream
Despite their teeth Ray's bream are harmless to people
A rare piranha-like fish, normally native to deep waters, has been found washed up on a Norfolk beach.

A Ray's bream was identified by staff at Hunstanton's Sea Life Sanctuary after a chalet attendant found it on the town's beach.

Up to 20in (50cm) in size with huge teeth, the fish have only been seen four times in the UK in the past 35 years and are common near Iceland.

A sanctuary spokesman said the ferocious looking fish are harmless.

Sharp teeth

Robert Meyer, aquarist at the sanctuary, said: "It normally lives in deeper waters and is common around Iceland but apparently this is a species that can suddenly invade in large numbers, and that might well be what's happening.

"Because it looks such a ferocious fish people might well be worried about going in the sea or letting pets splash in the tide edge, but they've nothing to fear.

"It might look a bit like a big piranha and it certainly has sharp teeth, but it never uses them on anything as big as a person, or even a very small dog."

The sanctuary said that although there are usually intervals of several years between sightings of the fish, their inquiries had discovered three fish had washed up in Moray Firth, Scotland, last month and one in Heacham, Norfolk in 2005.

Prior to this the most recent recorded sighting was in Bacton, Norfolk in 1972.

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