Beachgoers stunned as ‘millions’ of fish kill themselves by leaping out of sea

'Millions' of tiny fish jump from sea onto Pwllheli Beach

Beachgoers at a popular seaside town were mesmerised as “millions” of fish lept from the sea, unintentionally killing themselves.

At Gwynedd in Wales, countless minuscule fish were driven to the Pwllheli shoreline by hungry mackerel, turning the shallows silvery white.

The phenomenon was so remarkable that onlookers gathered the still-live fish in bags, ready for dinner. Some enthusiasts even ventured into the water, to fish out some small mackerel by hand.

Ambra Burls, 69, a local resident who was out for a stroll with her partner, was among the amazed witnesses.

She said: “I’m not talking thousands of fish, I’m talking millions.”

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The shoreline was dotted with deceased whitebait, young sprats from the herring family resembling sardines. At the water’s edge, more fish squirmed around on pebbles in a desperate bid to escape their mackerel predators.

Experts explain that fish shoals occasionally beach themselves as they head to shallow waters to evade predators, accidentally stranding themselves when the tide recedes.

Natural Resources Wales reassures the public that this is a natural occurrence and not a cause for concern.

“The whole beach was strewn with fish, all the way up towards the Cob back into town,” Ms Burls told NorthWalesLive.

“I’ve been here 11 years and, living near the beach, I walk there regularly. But I’d never seen anything like this before. Youngsters were picking them up from the shoreline and mothers were putting them in bags – a couple of them told me they were taking them home to eat.”

She added: “In the shallows, people were standing in the shoals of fish, in maybe 1.5ft of water. Some were scooping them out and putting them in bags. I was amazed by the sheer numbers of whitebait.

“Some people were even catching mackerel with their bare hands. They were young mackerel, perhaps just six inches to a foot long. A couple of fishermen were on the beach but they ignored the small mackerel – they were after the bigger ones!”

On seaweed, at the high tide, there were lots of dead whitebait, stuck after the water retreated. There were other fish leaping from the water.

Some fish even attempted to get back into the water, although “not many”, says Ms Burls. Despite the huge number of fish, there reportedly wasn’t a single seagull on the beach.

These kind of events aren’t rare and have occurred across Wales and Cornwall in recent years.

“Although it may appear worrying, it is only nature at work,” said Natural Resources Wales.

The strandings are more common from July to September as the water heats up and food is more plentiful.

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