Skipper Gareth Laurenson of local fishing boat Braveheart had a shock – literally – when he landed an electric ray while fishing for scallops in St Magnus Bay last week.
But fortunately he and his crew suffered nothing more than mild tingling from this particular specimen of a fish with the potential to generate a powerful shock of up to 220 volts. At 85cm, it was small – electric rays can grow to 1.8m.
Although it normally uses the shock, produced by special organs either side of its head, to stun prey, it can be severe for humans.
Gareth caught the ray north-east of Papa Stour last Thursday and brought it back to shore. Williamsons transported it to Scalloway to be examined by scientists from the NAFC Marine Centre. They confirmed the identification of the ray Torpedo nobiliana and were pleased to have the opportunity to examine a fish that none of them had seen before.
Dr Ian Napier of the centre said that electric rays were rare in Shetland waters, although a small number had been caught over the years. “This is about the northernmost limit of their distribution. The last one that we know of being caught in Shetland waters was about 15 years ago.”
Dr Martin Robinson, head of marine science and technology, thanked Gareth and his crew for keeping the ray and Williamsons for transporting it to Scalloway. He added: “We are always interested in hearing about rare or unusual fish that are caught around Shetland.”
More pictures of the ray, along with information about other rare fish caught around Shetland, can be seen on the NAFC Marine Centre’s “Discovery Zone” at www.nafc.ac.uk/DiscoveryZone.aspx