On September 18th, visitors to Crinnis beach at Carlyon Bay witnessed an amazing sight courtesy of Mother Nature.
Enjoying some late afternoon sunshine, people witnessed the gulls wheeling over some dark, choppy patches of water out to sea. it quickly became apparent the patches were, in fact, a giant shoal of fish heading in to the beach.
The whole of the shoreline started to bubble and turn silvery white as thousands of whitebait (sprats) threw themselves onto the shore trying to escape the mackerel which were herding them into shallow water. The sea was boiling with writhing fish and there was a line of whitebait at least 30cm wide beached along the tide line.
Mackerel were chasing them into the shallows. Some were beaching themselves and some folk were able to pick up a free supper from those fish that had misjudged their distance and been stranded.
All along the beach other people were trying to rescue the whitebait, throwing them back in the water but their chances of survival were slim with their Mackerel predators still waiting in the shallows.
This is actually a fairly common occurrence along our south coastlines on an incoming tide from July to September when the water has warmed up and food is plentiful. Often there is a food chain, with bass and dolphins waiting in the deeper water to prey on the mackerel, so every fisherman’s dream conditions. In fact several fishermen were catching mackerel one after the other from the beach.