Giant Atlantic bluefin tuna washes up in Scotland, shocks beachgoers: It was an 'impressive beast'

A strong storm likely caused a massive Atlantic bluefin tuna to wash up on a beach in Scotland over the weekend, creating quite a spectacle on the island of Sanday, Orkney.

The body of the fish – one of the world's largest and fastest, according to National Geographic – was estimated to be about 6.5 feet long. Atlantic bluefins live in both subtropic and temperate waters, the Massachusetts government explains on its website, noting it can travel across the Atlantic in less than 60 days.

"It was ... a pretty impressive beast. At that size, it's going to be pretty fully grown," Emma Neave-Webb, a local ranger, told SWNS on Monday. "The fish looked pretty fresh, so I think the cause of death was natural causes."

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The warm-blooded Atlantic bluefin can swim at speeds up to 43 miles per hour, thanks to its "powerful" tail, National Geographic points out. They typically weigh around 550 pounds, though some have reportedly been recorded at 1,000 pounds or more.

The fish's size attracted a crowd of locals on Sunday — with many traveling to Bea Sand beach to view the sea creature.

Ranger Emma Neave-Webb next to the giant Atlantic bluefin tuna found washed up on Bea Sand on Sanday, Orkney, 

Ranger Emma Neave-Webb next to the giant Atlantic bluefin tuna found washed up on Bea Sand on Sanday, Orkney,  (SWNS.com)

"Everybody's been amazed, it was a bit of a tourist attraction," Neave-Webb said. "It's been the talk of the island for the day, but we're hoping to go back ... to weigh it and dissect it for any signs of plastic pollution."

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It's not the first time a giant Atlantic bluefin has been spotted in the country.

"It's the third case of a bluefin tuna washing up in Scottish waters this year," John Hourston, founder of a volunteer group called the Blue Planet Society, told SWNS. "Bluefin tuna have only recently returned to British waters since around 2013, but it's extremely rare for one to be washed up in Orkney."

One of the most recent sightings of the rare fish was in October. At that time, a 6-foot-long Atlantic bluefin washed up in Fife, weighing around 245 pounds, The Scotsman reported.

While locals admitted it was a sad discovery, some fish experts were hopeful it was a sign the fish was making a comeback in the area.

“It’s sad this one has washed up dead but hopefully this is a sign that they are making a return as there have been a number of sightings in the North Sea and off the west coast of Scotland," Jonathan Louis, operations and development manager for the Forth Rivers Trust, told the Scottish newspaper.