Hundreds of fish washed up on beach in feeding frenzy

Hundreds of fish washed up on beach in feeding frenzy

Whitebait washed up at West Bay

A young boy collects whitebait from the shore of the beach at West Bay

Holidaymakers help to clear whitebait from the shore of the beach at West Bay

First published in News
Last updated
by , Reporter

HUNDREDS of small fish have been washed up on the beach at West Bay.

It is believed that the fish were chased into shallow water and onto the shore by a shoal of mackerel and lifeguards say the natural phenomenon happens around the same time every year.

Tourists at the resort were shocked to see the fish appearing to beach themselves and several people, including children, have been trying to rescue the doomed fish.

Many people along the shore could be seen scooping the fish into buckets filled with sea water or putting the fish back into the sea in an attempt to save them.

Hundreds of spratscould also be seen gathering by the harbour wall to try and escape the mackerel.

Holidaymaker Justine Underwood, who is visiting West Bay from the Midlands, was attempting to help the fish back into the sea with her family.

She arrived on the beach at 10.30am this morning, August 19, and said the fish have been washing up all day.

She added: “The water has been washing onto the beach and we could see small fish flapping about and still alive, so we’ve been trying to help put them back into the sea.

“Looking further into the sea it seems the mackerel have been chasing the smaller fish towards the shore.

“To be honest I thought this was fairly normal but lots of people have been quite shocked to see all the fish.”

John Rogers from Yorkshire, who is also staying in West Bay for the week on holiday, said he wasn’t surprised to see the fish washed up, adding that ‘the same thing happens in Cornwall quite often’.

He described the phenomenon as ‘simply nature’.

RNLI lifeguard supervisor for West Dorset, Kester Sheppard, said the same thing happens ‘year on year’ in Bridport and many fishermen visit during this time aiming to catch some mackerel.

He added: “Of course, if fishermen are fishing between the hours of 10am and 6pm we will be there to keep them safe.

“This process, where the mackerel chase the whitebait towards the shore, is indeed just nature.

“The mackerel force the whitebait towards the beach because it makes the whitebait easier to catch.”

Bridport harbourmaster James Radcliffe said the phenomenon was regular and natural, adding that recently water near the harbour could be seen ‘bubbling’ with shoals of mackerel.

'A natural phenomenon'

A Dorset Wildlife Trust spokesperson identified the fish as whitebait – probably ‘sprats’.

The spokesperson added: “This is a natural phenomenon which happens as a result of fish being chased by shoals of mackerel.

“Often dolphins follow mackerel, so that’s good news for more dolphin sightings this year.”

Comments (9)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

4:51pm Tue 19 Aug 14

caapprentice says...

'She arrived on the beach at 10.30am this morning, August 19, and said the fish have been washing up all day.'

Wouldn't they have been quicker with a dish-washer?
'She arrived on the beach at 10.30am this morning, August 19, and said the fish have been washing up all day.' Wouldn't they have been quicker with a dish-washer? caapprentice
  • Score: 21

5:04pm Tue 19 Aug 14

JamesYoung says...

In other news, tourists were baffled to see the sun rising this morning. Local octogenarian Ada Smith said she thought this had happened 24,000 times in her lifetime but thought she ought to notify the Echo as it was a slow news day.
In other news, tourists were baffled to see the sun rising this morning. Local octogenarian Ada Smith said she thought this had happened 24,000 times in her lifetime but thought she ought to notify the Echo as it was a slow news day. JamesYoung
  • Score: 11

6:00pm Tue 19 Aug 14

Dorset Boy says...

What new about this, it's been going on since the Ark was built Fill your buckets and coat the Whitebait in seasoned flour and fry. Excellent meal with toast.
What new about this, it's been going on since the Ark was built Fill your buckets and coat the Whitebait in seasoned flour and fry. Excellent meal with toast. Dorset Boy
  • Score: 6

6:32pm Tue 19 Aug 14

Get a grip says...

Why were the RSCA not there to stop this happening?

I am so upset by this I am consulting my solicitor to see if I am able to make a claim for compensation.
Why were the RSCA not there to stop this happening? I am so upset by this I am consulting my solicitor to see if I am able to make a claim for compensation. Get a grip
  • Score: 4

6:38pm Tue 19 Aug 14

MASK & SNORKEL says...

I have to agree that this happens every year. Whitebait get chased into the shallow waters along Chesil beach by Mackerel and normally Bass are chasing them :)
I have to agree that this happens every year. Whitebait get chased into the shallow waters along Chesil beach by Mackerel and normally Bass are chasing them :) MASK & SNORKEL
  • Score: 4

7:59pm Tue 19 Aug 14

hobbitdamian says...

Nature...... get over it...
Nature...... get over it... hobbitdamian
  • Score: 4

10:39pm Tue 19 Aug 14

sweetdreamgirl says...

You lot cheer me up with your wonderful comments,I have just read them all and am laughing out loud keep em coming my Dorset comics
You lot cheer me up with your wonderful comments,I have just read them all and am laughing out loud keep em coming my Dorset comics sweetdreamgirl
  • Score: 1

9:15am Wed 20 Aug 14

Morgasm says...

Chaos as whitebait sunbath close to Broadchurch cliff!
Chaos as whitebait sunbath close to Broadchurch cliff! Morgasm
  • Score: 2

8:29pm Wed 20 Aug 14

Bridders says...

Hold on everyone. I am not at all happy about this story. I think there has been something very fishy going on.
Hold on everyone. I am not at all happy about this story. I think there has been something very fishy going on. Bridders
  • Score: 1

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree