Exotic sunfish weighing six stone washes up on a beach… in LincolnshireThe Mola mola fish normally lives in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
18:23 GMT, 28 November 2012
A dog walker made a rare discovery when he found a six stone fish the size of a child washed up on the beach near his home.
Matt Hyde, 44, was walking his Labrador Jimmy along The Sandilands beach near Sutton-on-Sea, Lincolnshire when he nearly tripped over the blob-like creature.
The find was even more unusual than he thought as it turned out to be a a Mola mola, or Ocean sunfish, which normally lives thousands of miles away in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Rare guest: The mola mola sunfish is normally found in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
Mr Hyde brought the giant sunfish home and contacted marine experts who told him the significance of his find.
The Mola mola has previously been spotted washed up on Cornish beaches but never before has one been discovered on the English east coast.
Although it weighed six stone, this is considered very little for an Ocean sunfish which can grow to be 14ft (4.2m) long and 10ft (3.1m) wide and weigh a whopping 5,000lbs, or 357 stone.
Mr Hyde said: ‘Whilst taking Jimmy for a walk on the beach, he was tugging at something on the shoreline. When I went up to see what he had found, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
‘At first I thought it was a dead seal and nearly tripped over it, but as soon I realised it was a fish I knew it was something I have never seen before.
Large haul: The sunfish found by Mr Hyde in Sutton-on-sea weighs six stone
Fetched fish: Mr Hyde found the sunfish when he was walking his black Labrador Jimmy , right, on the Sandilands beach near Sutton-on-sea
Big baby: Although this specimen tipped the scales at six stone it is considered a tiny one for the mola molas who can weigh up to 357 stone when fully grown
‘To me, the fish looked somewhat prehistoric, but after doing some research I discovered it was a Mola mola sunfish.'
Although they don’t have tails, the ocean-dwellers can still jump clear of the water.
OTHER UNUSUAL BEACH FINDS
In January this year another Mola mola was found on the beach in seaside resort Margate in Kent.
This was followed by a 35ft sperm whale which was discovered 14 miles from Sandilands at Skegness Pier in April.
In 2011 a 55ft fin whale washed up on the beach in Lynmouth, Devon, which normally lives far away in the North Atlantic.
In 2008 an extremely rare 12ft Sowerby's beaked whale and a baby Risso's dolphin were found within days of each other on the western shores of St Agnes on the Isles of Scilly.
They have been known to be spotted along the west coast of Britain but it is extremely rare to find one on the east.
Andy Horton, director of the British Marine Life Study Society, said: 'It is rare and unusual to get sunfish in the North Sea.
‘They are mainly found in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and the furthest I’m ever seen them go is the Cornish coast.
‘So for it to navigate around Scotland
like that is quite remarkable. For it to be washed up like that is even
rarer as the prevailing winds would usually propel it away from land.
‘I have heard of sightings in Irish and Welsh waters but on an English beach on the east coast is rare.’
Sunfish develop their truncated, bullet-like shape because the back fin which they are born with never grows.
Instead, it folds into itself as the enormous creature matures, creating a rounded rudder called a clavus.
Mola in Latin means ‘millstone’ and describes the ocean sunfish’s somewhat circular shape.
Atlantic athlete: It doesn't look it but the Mola mola sunfish can jump clear out of the wate