FORGET the winter weather…beaches in the Highlands and Islands are set to turn truly tropical.
Islanders on the West Coast are being urged to look out for a massive flotilla of South American fruit on their beaches after a cargo of bananas and pineapples went overboard in the Atlantic.
Experts believe said that beaches in the Western Isles and Shetland are the most likely destination for the floating fruit cocktail.
The alert echoes the plot of Whisky Galore, the 1947 novel in which a cargo ship, the SS Politician, is wrecked off a fictional Scottish island, with 50,000 crates of whisky aboard. Islanders found their beaches awash with bottles and tried to hide their treasure in a book later made and remade for the big-screen.
Now scientists are keen to hear of any finds because ironically the tropical slick may help oceanic research.
A giant refrigerated cargo vessel MV Lombok Strait is believed to have lost two containers of bananas and pineapples overboard more than a week ago.
The 548-feet long ship is used by the transport arm of fruit giant Del Monte.
A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said that the Lombok Strait informed the UK Coastguard on October 22 that it had lost the containers in bad weather.
“The contents of the containers are bananas and pineapples,” she said.
“The vessel required no assistance, no crew sustained any injuries and no other vessel was involved. The vessel was unsure as to when exactly the containers were lost, it could have been up to three days before.”
A spokesman for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) said that the containers were expected to come ashore in about three weeks, anywhere on the west coasts of the islands, or as far north as Shetland.
The spokesman said: “The containers were lost mid-Atlantic. Assuming that the containers broke up on entering the water, and after checking that bananas and pineapples float, the potential trajectory shows possible landfalls along the Western Isles and Shetlands.
“Out of interest and to help refine our future models, the date and location of any reports of landfall by the fruit will help research.”
In 2015 Storm Rachel caused a surprise bonanza for beachcombers in Cornwall with a deluge of oranges and lemons washed ashore.
Anyone sighting fruit is asked to contact the coastguard and visit a Facebook page that logs washed-up materials.
The CEFAS spokesman added:”Out of interest and to help refine our future models, a request was made for reports on Facebook group ‘Lost Lego at Sea’ which has an interest in materials coming ashore. The date and location of any reports of landfall would help calibrate the numerical models.”