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Tropical sunfish washes up on Highland beach at Rosemarkie on the Black Isle– much to the surprise of an early morning swimmer


By Louise Glen

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A creature from the deep washed up on a Highland beach this morning.

The sunfish, which is normally found in moderate or tropical waters, was found by a swimmer at Rosemarkie beach, who posted photographs on Twitter.

An Ocean Sunfish washed up on Rosemarkie beach.
An Ocean Sunfish washed up on Rosemarkie beach.

Sunfish are frequently seen basking in the sun near the surface and are often mistaken for sharks when their huge dorsal fins emerge above the water.

Wendy Maltinsky, whose twitter handle is @WendyMalt, posted three pictures of the fish that can grow up to 11ft. She said: "Strange strange times. A new kind of picture from my early swim. This time a beached sunfish. It looks like it had a run-in possibly with dolphins?"

A report on the Sunfish, or mola, in the National Geographic describes the fish as vulnerable due to its decreasing population in the wild.

It says the sunfish develops its truncated, bullet-like shape because the back fin which they are born with simply never grows. Instead, it folds into itself as the enormous creature matures, creating a rounded rudder called a clavus.

An Ocean Sunfish washed up on Rosemarkie beach.
An Ocean Sunfish washed up on Rosemarkie beach.

Mola in Latin means 'millstone' and describes the ocean sunfish’s somewhat circular shape. They are a silvery colour and have a rough skin texture.

Their teeth are fused into a beak-like structure, and they are unable to fully close their relatively small mouths.

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