Aquatic ecologist, Keith Bishop is trying to unravel the mystery

Michiyo Nikaido examines a part filleted black fish which 'landed' in her Bungwahl backyard.
Michiyo Nikaido examines a part filleted black fish which 'landed' in her Bungwahl backyard.

No one would disagree with aquatic ecologist, Keith Bishop, who says 2019-2020 has been a one in a million.

Bushfires, drought, floods and sedimentation, COVID-19, millions of dead lady beetles on the beach, jellyfish falling from the sky and last week a 1.32kg, 48.5cm Eastern rock blackfish in the forest-enclosed front yard of Dr Bishop's Bungwahl property.

Puzzling, considering the closest body of water, Smiths Lake, is more than two kilometres away, and Myall Lakes is four kilometres.

This species of blackfish typically lives in surge areas about rocky coastlines so perhaps after being discarded by a fisherman it arose from Seal Rocks 10km away, Dr Bishop surmised.

Many possibilities!

"Weirdly, this is similar to the jellyfish drop in January," Dr Bishop said.

Dr Bishop first noticed two large sea eagles casually standing on his lawn and took it they were responsible for the unusual parcel.

However, he discounted the birds were bizarrely skilled.

"I assume they did not carry the fish together, and also they did not fillet it," Dr Bishop said.

"There were very strong winds which could have acted in two ways; the eagles could have been assisted to travel further distance and wind gusts could have caused the large fish to twist in their talons causing it to release.

"Given the wind direction my bet is that they picked it on the edges of Myall Lakes near Bungwahl."

Dr Bishop's thoughts went immediately to sharing this valuable data with colleague, Dr Tom Grant, who studied the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus).

"He considered for years there was a possibility that sea eagles could predate on platypus," he said.

"Accordingly he is always interested in data which demonstrates the 'lift power' of eagles.

"I have sent him the details and I am sure he will return some interesting snippets."

In 2004 Dr Grant witnessed a sea eagle grab a dead 2.5kg Australian bass from the Hastings River but it failed to get airborne.

It would appear then that their lift power is greater than 1.3 kg, but less than 2.5 kg.

Dr Bishop has since set up a scouting camera in an attempt to unravel the mystery appearance of the filleted blackfish accompanied by two sea eagles.

The next morning it revealed a follow-up crew of two large wedge-tailed eagles and Australian ravens.

By the afternoon all that remained of the blackfish was a scattering of scales on the ground.

"Thinking of my tank water supply, I subsequently checked my roof and thankfully they had not dropped smelly inedible remains there," Dr Bishop said.