MILLIONS of fish have been washed ashore at St Andrews Bay following a freak North Sea storm lasting several days.

The fish were found over a five-mile stretch of beach, including West Sands, one of the top-rated in Scotland.

Staff at St Andrews Aquarium have been trying to save some of the creatures which include five species of crab, plaice and flounder, starfish, scallops and an octopus.

While around 80% of the creatures have died, staff have been trying to get some of them back into the sea.

Another factor is believed to be the fact that the tide is not rising as far as in previous years, leaving the creatures stranded on the beach and at the mercy of seagulls.

John Mace, general manager of the aquarium, said the sealife had been washed ashore over a three-day period.

"It is essentially a complete freak of nature," he said. "Everyone that has talked about this seems to think it is down to oil tanker pollution but it is not. It is like a natural disaster.

"I have seen this happen once but it was on a tiny scale and there were a few animals washed up."