A FOSSIL feast has hit the Jurassic Coast beaches in Charmouth and Lyme Regis after the storms have stripped coastlines.

Hordes of fossil hunters have descended onto the beaches during the breaks in the weather trying to snap up the next discovery.

Collectors have also been keen to go onto the beaches after the discovery of a five-foot fully complete Ichthyosaur fossil was found by keen amateur fossil collector Alan Saxon in December.

Richard Edmonds, earth science manager for the Jurassic Coast Team, said: “This weather has been good for the fossils.

“There will be lots of fossils that have come down on to the beaches following the stormy conditions, there is no doubt about that.

“There will be a lot of small ones like ammonites strewn across the beaches, and possibly bits of vertebrae that have broken off as well.

Hundreds of people headed for the beaches in Lyme Regis during the half-term break to hunt for the prize fossils, and Mr Edmonds warned about the dangers of the hobby.

Mr Edmonds added: “The really important message is that the beaches are the best place to find them not the cliffs.

“When they are on the cliffs they are very dangerous because a rock fall can happen at anytime and during this weather there is a lot more landslide activity, plus more quicksand and mud which can be incredibly dangerous.

“There is no point going on the cliffs to try and find them when they are on the beaches, it is just a completely unnecessary risk, the best place to find everything is on the beach.”

The five-foot Ichthyosaur fossil was found by fossil collector Alan Saxon, which is one of the biggest finds on the beach in recent years.

Paul Crossley, owner of Jurassic Gems in Lyme Regis has been on the beaches every day looking for fossils.

He said: “There has been a massive increase in people going down to collect fossils.

“The main two things that have contributed to the massive influx have been the bad weather, which is good for finding fossils, and the hype that came after the Ichthyosaur fossil that was found on Boxing Day.

“It’s a bit concerning because a lot of the people who come down are only interested in the potential financial value of the finds, rather than the scientific importance.”