It’s of-fish-al — the mystery of a sea creature washed up on a Tayside beach could soon be solved.
Experts at St Andrews Aquarium told the Evening Telegraph they believe the dead animal is most likely to be a Conger eel or an oarfish.
Locals had been left curious after the fearsome looking remains of the animal were found by a passing walker on Easthaven beach. The creature, which is between four to five feet long, had a visible set of sharp teeth and a long tail.
Stephen McKelvie, of the aquarium, said he and other staff members had examined the images carefully and were torn on whether it was an oarfish or a Conger eel.
He said: “It may be an oarfish. There was a specimen found near Carnoustie a few weeks back.
“It could be that this oarfish was left on the beach and the mystery creature is the dessicated corpse.
“It’s hard to tell because we are unsure of the size and dimensions of the oarfish they found a few weeks ago.
“The alternate idea is that it is a Conger eel that has been caught and left on the beach, or has died naturally and has washed up.
“The shape of the jaw and the pattern of the teeth are the only things to go on, because of the level of mortification.”
He said the level of decay makes it difficult to be definitive on its identification but said he plans to make further inquiries in a bid to find out more.
The Conger eel is found around the British Isles, while oarfish — which can grow up to 56 feet in length — are more rare.
The discovery of the mystery carcass had prompted speculation among the community about what the animal could be.
Some locals guessed it was an eel, while others were convinced it was a ling, a pike or a shark.
Others amusing ideas suggested the creature could have been a dinosaur or even the Loch Ness monster.
Local man David Mackland came across the find while on the beach with his family.
He said: “We were just walking on the beach to see what we could find and we came across this. It was pretty big.
“I think it must have been killed out at sea and then washed up on the beach.”