Macduff Marine Aquarium have bid a reluctant farewell to one of their biggest residents, a six foot conger eel called Rip. But Rip seemed reluctant to leave, and had to be persuaded to go when he was released into the Moray Firth just outside the aquarium.
The Aquarium's motive on letting Rip return to the wild is both compassionate and passionate. Male congers go through a mid life crisis, when they head for the only time in their lives to the breeding grounds near the Azores, off the African coast, to find a mate, and die.
Rip was named for his habit of tearing food from the divers' hands who hand feed him in the Aquarium's giant 16 five metre tank. After six years at the Aquarium, he was showing the tell-tale signs of unrequited love: leaving his permanent hidey-hole, and swimming in daylight hours.
Rip quite happily went into his escape route, a large bag. But when it was lowered by crane into the firth, it took some persuasion by the Aquarium's divers to entice him from the safety of the bag, and set off on his one way mission.
But he eventually took the plunge and was last seen heading out to sea.