Wednesday, November 21, 2007
More than 100,000 salmon worth over £1m ($2illion) have been killed in a freak jellyfish attack.
It has wiped out Northern Ireland's only salmon farm and owners are now facing ruin.
The massive invasion happened at Glenarm Bay and Red Bay, Cushendun, off the Co Antrim coast.
Billions of small jellyfish called Mauve Stingers were involved - they stung and then stressed the salmon which were being kept in cages about a mile out into the Irish Sea.
The attack lasted for nearly seven hours with the jellyfish covering a sea area of up to 10 square miles and 35ft deep.
Staff in three boats tried to reach the cages, but such was the density of the jellyfish they struggled to get through and when they did it was too late to save the salmon.
The fish is sold to some of London's leading restaurants and the Queen had salmon on her 80th birthday cooked by top Irish chef Richard Corrigan.
It was also exported to hotels and restaurants in France, Belgium, Germany and the United States.
John Russell, managing director of Northern Salmon Co.Ltd, said "We are still assessing the full extent, but it's a disaster.
"In 30 years, I've never seen anything like it. It was unprecedented, absolutely amazing.
"The sea was red with these jelly fish and there was nothing we could do about, it, absolutely nothing."
Fish farms around Britain and the west coast of Ireland have been attacked before by jellyfish.
But the type blown towards the Co Antrim coast by northern winds have never been recorded in that area.