Mystery solved: Stranded fish were horse mackerel chasing sprat

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority says the stranding yesterday of hundreds of fish along parts of the south Donegal and north Leitrim coast was caused by a shoal of horse mackerel chasing sprat.

The authority says this is not unusual, although the scale of this incident is not typical.

It was a surprise sight for people yesterday afternoon when they saw hundreds of fish washed up in places along the coast between the Drowes River at Tullaghan, in north Leitrim, and Bundoran, in Donegal.

The scale of the incident was most spectacular at the area known as The Reef in Bundoran, which is popular with surfers.

Among the questions raised were what happened and where the fish came from.

Following reports from members of the public, Killybegs based officers of the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority travelled to Bundoran yesterday evening to investigate.

In a statement issued this afternoon, the authority says they found a significant amount of horse mackerel on the shoreline.

They inspected the fish and found that many of them were bloated and full of sprat.

Having re-visited the site again this morning, they have concluded that a shoal of horse mackerel, chasing sprat on an ebb tide on Tuesday evening, resulted in a sizeable number of the shoal stranding on the beach.

The authority says this is not an unusual occurrence, although the scale of this incident is not typical.

The authority will liaise with both Leitrim and Donegal county councils in relation to the incident.

However, it expects that most of the fish will go out on the next tide.