Mystery pufferfish deaths hit New Zealand

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Hundreds of dead pufferfish have been found on a stretch of beach in New Zealand and experts are baffled as to how the fish died.

According to the website Scoop, around 250-350 New Zealand porcupine fish, Tragulichthys (formerly Allomycterus) jaculiferus, were found on a two kilometre stretch of coast between Fort Dorset and Karaka Bay.

Pollution control experts have visited the scene, and the regional council has warned people not to touch the fish, which are a source of the potent tetradotoxin poison. The fish have now been removed.

Chris Keenan, Pollution Control Officer for Greater Wellington, told Scoop: "The appearance of a large number of one species suggests it could be the result of an unwanted catch being dumped by a fishing boat. Otherwise the death could be from a disease, virus or bloom of toxic algae or plankton."