Fishermen find rare tuna in British waters - then barbecue it!
An exotic tuna fish has been caught in British waters for the first time - and was then barbecued by the fishermen who found it.
The 2ft skipjack tuna was discovered thrashing around in shallows as it tried to swim up the River Otter at the seaside town of Budleigh Salterton, Devon.
Skipjack tuna are usually found in tropical seas but experts say the fish could have been attracted to Britain's coastline due to rising water temperatures.
There are no records of one ever being caught in UK waters.
Tuesday 9th & Wednesday 10th. Carol (with over 16yrs experience) has 10% off - facials. Pedicures. Manicures. Body wraps. Spray tans. Waxing. Tinting. Perming
Terms: For 2 days only. With therapist Carol. Please quote "2 day special offer".
Contact: 01271 440617
Valid until: Thursday, December 12 2013
Leo Curtis and friend Ian Carrott had been fishing on the beach when they spotted the 20lbs fish in six inches of water in the river estuary.
They tried to direct it back out to sea but the exhausted fish died.
Rather than leaving the tuna for seagulls to eat the pair gutted it and took it home to barbecue.
Leo, 37, an offshore diver, said: "I was down on the beach doing a bit of spear fishing, something I do when the water is clear.
"I was just getting my wetsuit on by the mouth of the River Otter when I heard a noise that sounded like a dog splashing in water.
"Someone shouted that it was a salmon trying to swim up the river so I ran over and saw a big fish in about six inches of water.
"I saw straight away that it was a tuna.
"I knew it was a rare fish so we tried to turn it round and send it back out to sea but it just kept trying to swim back up the river.
"The fish was exhausted, it was clearly at the end of its life, and it died soon after.
"We did think about leaving it for the seagulls but it was just too nice a fish to waste.
"I gutted it on the beach and sliced a bit off straight away like sushi.
"The taste was incredible - it was just like steak.
"I cut off a chunk for a lady who had watched the whole thing then took the rest of the fish to a local fishmonger to put on ice.
"The next day I had family down for a barbecue so I cut the tuna into steaks and grilled them.
"I brushed one with garlic butter and the others we had with a squeeze of lemon.
"I knew the fish was rare but there was nothing more we could have done to save it and I'm glad it didn't go to waste."
Mike Heylin, chairman of the British Record Fish Committee, confirmed the skipjack tuna is the first to be caught in the UK.
He said: "There are no records of a skipjack tuna being caught in British waters so this is a first.
"I'm not surprised in the least though - every year we are seeing increasing numbers of what would be considered sub-equatorial fish in our waters.
"Skipjack are warm water fish but it is likely it arrived on one of the warm currents flowing north from the equator.
"Fish are very sensitive to changes in the weather and are often ahead of the game in terms of finding new areas of the oceans to explore.
"Successful species like skipjack are good at finding niche areas and doing very well out of them."
Skipjack tuna - Katsuwonus pelamis in Latin - are the smallest and most abundant of the major commercial tuna species.
They are found mainly in the tropical areas of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.
By night they swim near the surface but can dive up to 850ft during the day.