Whitebait glut causes sea to 'boil' off Dorset

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Media captionKerrie Gardner from Lyme Regis filmed the fish on her phone

Unusually high numbers of whitebait have been causing the sea off west Dorset to apparently "boil".

Fishermen reported a sudden glut starting a week ago. Mackerel chase the whitebait for food, causing them to jump in the air.

It is usual for the fish to come into shore during the summer, but locals have described the numbers in the last week as "phenomenal".

The Environment Agency said the whitebait were probably herring.

Steve Sweet, secretary and boat skipper of the Lyme Regis Sea Angling Club, said: "This year has been unusual because of the winter storms we had in February - it held everything up - and the mackerel, until two weeks ago, were very scarce.

"Suddenly, there's been a big explosion and the numbers of whitebait have been phenomenal. I've never known anything like it."

'Shooting stars'

Kerrie Gardner, a photographer from Lyme Regis, said she first noticed the fish when she went swimming in Charmouth.

She said: "There are so many little fish in there at the moment, they were leaping out all around me like scaly shooting stars."

Mr Sweet said: "Off Lyme Regis, we've got a floating pontoon and the boats have parted the whitebait in the water.

"People have been down, scooping them up in buckets and nets and going away with buckets full.

"You do get periods like this every year but I've never seen them in those numbers."

Unusually high numbers of barrel jellyfish and bluefin tuna have also been recorded off the south-west coast as sea temperatures have hit record highs.

Mr Sweet said: "We would normally expect sea temperatures to peak in early October at about 16 or 17 degrees so we could still find sea temperatures higher.

"The highest temperature I have recorded so far has been 19 degrees."

Image copyright MATT SLATER
Image caption Unusually high numbers of barrel jellyfish have been found off the coast

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