Deadly pufferfish more poisonous than cyanide washes up on beach in Cornwall

The fish contains a toxin 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide Credit: Constance Morris

A rare and deadly pufferfish has washed up on a beach in Cornwall.

The fish was found by holidaymaker Constance Morris who saw some gulls pecking at a fish on Towan Beach in Newquay.

Constance records dead marine animals for Cornwall Wildlife Trust and so has put the fish in her freezer for educational purposes.

"As I walked up to the fish I instantly knew it was an unusual find," she said.

"It's a bit under one foot with a sliver back, flabby white underside and a stubby face which concealed its most noticeable feature - its beak. None of our local fish have beaks and they are usually found on things like coral-eating fish, so I knew it was something a bit more tropical.

"I didn’t know what this fish was, but I've found odd fish before and know these animals can be important and of interest to scientists, so being ever ready to scoop something unpleasant off the beach I bagged it up and put it in my backpack."

Matt Slater, a marine conservation officer with Cornwall Wildlife Trust said: "They can produce toxic slime so they’re best to handle with gloves. Like all puffers, they produce tetrodotoxin which is dangerous, especially if eaten.”

Constance said: "It's advised to leave alone and certainly not to touch. I am just lucky I carry a kit with me at all times for just this sort of thing. They do turn up in our waters every now and then, but it's still very important to record them, it gives a better indication of what’s going on in our oceans."

The fish was identified as a lagocephalus which is commonly known as the oceanic pufferfish. It's a species that is native to the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans as well as the Sea of Japan. It is rare to find them in British waters.

If you find a dead marine animal in Cornwall contact the Marine Strandings Network's hotline on 0345 201 2626 as the information can prove vital for research.