Wildlife experts and local people were left confused and at the same time excited after a collection of unusual deep-sea creatures washed up on an Aberdeenshire beach.
Examinations of the dead fish, discovered by a teenage boy at St Cyrus, revealed 10 different species that inhabit some of the murkiest depths of the ocean.
The unexpected find included alien-looking fangtooth and two types of chimaera or ghost shark, rarely seen by human eyes due to living thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean.
There were also viperfish, pink dory, black scabbard, lantern fish and hatchet fish.
Therese Alampo, manager at St Cyrus National Nature Reserve, which is run by Scottish Natural Heritage, said she couldn’t believe her eyes when conservation volunteers, 15-year-old Jobrul Chamberlain and Bob Fitzpatrick, brought her the weird and wonderful fish to identify.
She added: “They’re always bringing me stuff to look at and we’ve had some rare wildlife sightings in the past but this is amazing.
“I’m still very excited. They had never seen anything like it and knew there was something interesting here, so they brought them back.
“We knew they were deep-sea fish but we didn’t know how they had come to be here.
“We’ve got this collection of deep-sea creatures, it’s absolutely incredible. There were about 15 fish in all.”
She explained that her colleague Andrew Ferguson travelled from Aberdeen, and they spent the evening recording and measuring the creatures.
Ms Alampo added: “I also got in contact with the Shark Trust, who were so helpful.
“They were also amazed and very excited about the chimaera in particular.
“It turns out the fish had been taken to the beach by a marine scientist, who had caught them in deep water west of Shetland as part of a research project and taken them to St Cyrus to show to his children.”
But the specimens were swept away by the sea, only to wash up again later.
Ms Alampo said: “People are fascinated by the marine environment, it’s such a mysterious world.
“Connecting with these creatures is magical. Seeing things from the deep ocean is especially fascinating.
“These fish are bioluminescent, they look like aliens, with their big eyes and weird bodies. It really is a dream come true for me.”