This is why thousands of young fish washed up dead on a popular Estepona beach

This is why thousands of young fish washed up dead on a popular Estepona beach

Ecologists described the incident in the Costa del Sol resort as "an unprecedented event" and called for an investigation

David Lerma


Wednesday, 7 February 2024


Thousands of dead fish of various species washed up on Estepona’s La Rada beach on the Costa del Sol on Tuesday morning this week. Located in the centre of the town, the seabed off this popular beach is protected as a Special Area of Conservation by the European Union. The unusual event is similar to what happened a few days ago on the coastline of Fuengirola and Mijas.

Sources from the environmental organisation Ecologists Sierra Bermeja said: "We don't know what has happened. Only that there has been a massive number of juvenile fish dying on La Rada beach, which is approximately four kilometres long. From one end to the other, it was full of dead fish. We want the authorities to clarify what has happened.”

The ecologists described the incident as "an unprecedented event" and put forward several hypotheses. One of them was that the fish were "discarded from fishing boats before entering the docks because they do not meet the minimum size". They are also studying the possibility that there has been a red tide effect at some point in the Strait, eutrophication or dumping.

"We demand that the administration carry out its investigations into why these fish have died because this is not a normal thing. We have never seen this number of fish. It doesn't seem to be a local matter, a few days ago it also happened in Mijas and it seems to be spreading to the area of Cadiz and the Guadiaro area. It is a serious case because it is in a particularly sensitive area," the ecologists said.

A day later, after examining the dead speciments, environmental technicians from the Junta de Andalucía determined that the cause of the deaths was natural. It was due, they said, to the hunting techniques used by a group of predators, probably dolphins, who cornered and disoriented the school of fish near the coast, which took a wrong direction and headed desperately towards the shoreline. Once there they died from asphyxiation.

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