Watch six-foot tuna circle Exmouth paddleboarders in Exe Estuary

PUBLISHED: 13:22 17 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:22 17 September 2020

A six-foot tuna fish approaching some paddleboarder in the Exe Estuary. Picture: Derek Johnson

A six-foot tuna fish approaching some paddleboarder in the Exe Estuary. Picture: Derek Johnson

Archant

When a group of Exmouth paddleboarders went onto the water on Wednesday (September 16) evening, they didn’t expect to be greeted by a six-foot tuna.

A six-foot tuna fish approaching some paddleboarder in the Exe Estuary. Picture: Derek JohnsonA six-foot tuna fish approaching some paddleboarder in the Exe Estuary. Picture: Derek Johnson

But that’s what happened to the group from the Exmouth Tri-Hards who go paddleboarding in the Exe Estuary twice a week.

The Tri-Hards group noticed something in the water near to the Exmouth Local Nature Reserve.

They paddled out to get a closer look and at first the group thought it was a dolphin.

Derek Johnson, one of the paddleboarders, told the Journal, they remained on their boards so they didn’t disturb the dolphin, which turned out to be a six-foot tuna fish.

A six-foot tuna fish approaching some paddleboarder in the Exe Estuary. Picture: Derek JohnsonA six-foot tuna fish approaching some paddleboarder in the Exe Estuary. Picture: Derek Johnson

He said: “They’re known to be offshore fish but you don’t expect them in the relative shallow waters of Exmouth estuary.

“I belong to the Exmouth Tri-Hards and we have a little group that meets fairly regularly. A couple of us were out around 6pm and we noticed something just off the Exmouth Local Nature Reserve.

“We paddled out a quarter of a mile and at first we thought it was a shark.

“None of us got into the water but it started just circling us and came towards us and a couple of times bumped our boards – it looked like it was investigating us.”

The fish disappeared so the paddleboarders moved to around 100 metres from the Imperial Recreation Ground only to find the tuna had followed them.

Derek added: “It was just really beautiful to see – it’s a fantastic fish but to see one coming for us was something else.

“It wasn’t threatening us and just seemed to want to investigate what we were.”

Derek said he thought the fish was lost, trying to get back into the channel out of the estuary and mistook the shape of the boards as fellow tuna.

He added: “It’s behaviour, I presume, was trying to school with us thinking we were other tuna and we could get him to safety.”

Exmouth and Beer coastguard rescue teams were called out shortly after 6pm on Wednesday after reports of a dolphin - which was later confirmed to be a ‘substantial’ tuna - stranded near the Imperial Recreation Ground.

Following a localised search of the area, Exmouth Coastguard confirmed that the fish had disappeared.


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