Kayakers haul bluefin tuna ashore in Cornwall

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Media captionThe rare bluefin tuna fish was discovered by group of friends in Kingsand

A rare tuna fish has been towed to a Cornish beach after a group of kayakers found it floating in the sea.

The fish, believed to be a bluefin tuna, was discovered floating in the water at Kingsand by a group of friends on holiday.

The species is currently listed as critically endangered.

Although potentially worth hundreds of thousands of pounds internationally, it is illegal to catch or sell the species from British waters.

Claire Wallerstein, a volunteer strandings recorder for the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said she "just could not believe it" when she saw the fish, which took six men to lift.

Image copyright Claire Wallerstein
Image caption The group of friends discovered the tuna near Kingsand

"Someone came to my house to tell me there was a dead dolphin on the beach.

"They were coming out of the sea with this huge monster, but then I could see it was a tuna."

The find by the five friends - Charlotte Chambers, Shauna Creamer, Hannah Ford, Sarah Little and Laura Pickervance - was reported to the authorities, Ms Wallerstein said.

Dr Matthew Witt, of the University of Exeter's campus in Penryn, Cornwall, said the tuna was brought to its Environment and Sustainability Institute on Monday morning and some pathology tests might be conducted.

He added: "The specimen will be used for educational purposes as it will be of great interest to students learning about the biology of these inspiring fish."

Image copyright Claire Wallerstein
Image caption The tuna fish caused a lot of interest on the beach it was hauled back to

Bluefin tuna is found in the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, with smaller quantities fished from the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean.

Bluefin numbers began to decline in the 1960s with the introduction of new fishing methods, with over-fishing leading to its critically endangered status.

The biggest market for the fish is Japan, where people eat it raw in sushi.

Prices can be high for such tuna because of its rarity.

In 2013, a 489lb (222kg) bluefin tuna was bought at an auction for £1.05m by a sushi restaurant owner in Japan.

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