Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Mystery over deep sea fish death

Washed up oarfish
Marine experts will attempt to determine how the oarfish died

An unusual deep sea fish has been washed up on a beach in North Tyneside.

The 3m (9ft 8ins) long oarfish was found by a member of the public near cliffs at Tynemouth Pier on Tuesday.

They normally live at depths of up to 3,000ft (1,000m) in the Mediteranean or eastern Atlantic. Since 1981 only four findings have been recorded in the UK.

The specimen, which was in a good condition, has been taken to nearby Blue Reef Aquarium where experts will try to determine how it died.

Oarfish are the world's longest species of bony fish, and can grow to up to 24ft (8m) long, although there have been reports of individuals more than double that length.

Truly magnificant

Their great size, bizarre appearance and strange undulating way of swimming is believed to have given rise to many "sea monster" sightings over the centuries.

Earlier in February, a decayed specimen was found near Amble in Northumberland.

Blue Reef curator Zahra d'Aronville, said: "Very little is known about the life cycle of these truly magnificent creatures and it's a mystery why two of them should have washed up on our coastlines so close together.

"This particular individual is in really good condition and there are no obvious reasons why it should have died.

"At this stage it's impossible to tell whether it was alive when it stranded or whether the currents simply washed it ashore."

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