A rare sighting of a swordfish has been made off the east coast of Scotland in the North Sea.
The creature was identified swimming through SSE Renewables’ Seagreen offshore wind farm site by HiDef Aerial Surveying Ltd during digital aerial wildlife surveys of the area.
Ecologists studying the site’s video footage from August 2019 noticed the shape of the fish, which was two metres long and was recorded close to the sea surface.
@HiDefSurvey discover Scotland's 2nd ever Swordfish in the North Sea for @SeagreenWind for @SSE showing the power of digital video aerial surveys. Great work team! Read more at https://t.co/f54Xxc1khrpic.twitter.com/JtNMR1xiJG
— HiDef Surveying (@HiDefSurvey) January 27, 2020
HiDef associate director Martin Scott told the PA news agency it is believed to be only the second such sighting in Scotland following another swordfish being spotted near Alloa, Clackmannanshire, several years ago.
He also suggested climate change could be a factor in why the fish was so far north, given the species is more accustomed to warmer waters in the Caribbean, Mediterranean or US.
Mr Scott said: “We have seen some incredible things over the years but this one is particularly gratifying.
“It shows how aware and alert our team are, not just on a day to day basis but when confronted with an obscure oddity.
“With the aircraft flying at 200km per hour and 1,800 feet up it really does just go to show how good our systems are at recording wildlife.”
The team zoomed into the images up to 700% and sought a second opinion given the lack of swordfish recorded in Scottish waters.
Jim Ellis from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science said: “The distance from the tip of the bill to the origin of the first dorsal fin is a high proportion of the fork length.
“Marlins, etc, have a proportionally shorter bill.”
Lis Royle, Seagreen’s consent manager, said: “We’re pleased we’ve been able to help record the second ever spotting of a swordfish in Scottish waters.
“It’s our duty to ensure that our projects are built with a detailed understanding of the natural environment and whilst we don’t expect the Seagreen swordfish to make an appearance again it was great to be able to capture this incredibly rare sighting during our survey work.”