Visitors to Rock-a-Nore beach were shocked to witness a rare marine phenomenon in which hundreds of sprats became stranded on the shore last week.
The sprats were left high and dry after a shoal of mackerel drove them to the coastline trapping them in a shallow pool as the tide went out.
Aquarists from Hastings Blue Reef Aquarium rushed to save as many of the fish as they could.
“We managed to rescue some of the sprats which we have now transferred to a special display here at the aquarium,” said Blue Reef’s Leanna Lawson.
“However by the time we arrived most of the fish were beyond our help. Rather than see them go to waste however, local people collected them in nets and buckets and we also took quite a few to use as food for our resident marine creatures,” she added.
Mackerel regularly chase large shoals of sprats and other smaller fish close to the shore as it makes them easier to catch.
Rarely the sprats literally beach themselves in a bid to escape their would-be predators and are unable to get back into the sea.
Similar spectacles have been recorded recently on beaches in Dorset, Cornwall and Wales where it is not uncommon for pods of dolphins to be spotted as they feed on the mackerel.
In 2010 the estimated figure for the global commercial capture of sprats was 667,000 tonnes. They are commonly served as whitebait.