Video: Tens of Thousands of Fish Leap From Sea in Hunting Frenzy

Swimming sardines. Getty Images

Tens of thousands of fish leaped out of the the waters around a fishing boat in a Taiwan fishing port, creating the appearance of a "boiling" sea, a video posted to Facebook has shown.

Fisherman Lu Jingwai captured incredible footage of sardines darting through the air and falling back into the water. Larger fish may have been chasing the sardines, driving them into a panicked frenzy, Sanlih E-Television News reported.

The jumping fish startled Lu, who said, "It's so scary! I got attacked by fish!" in the video, the U.K.'s Daily Mail reported. Lu and his companions scooped out the fish that landed in his boat.

The fishy phenomenon isn't as unusual as you might think. "Whilst this does look incredible, it isn't unheard of," Nicholas Higgs, deputy director of the Marine Institute at the University of Plymouth, told Newsweek. "I suspect the fish were being hunted, perhaps by a barracuda or some other predator, and found themselves enclosed in the harbor, and as a last resort just jumped out of the water to avoid predation."

Barracuda are big, snakelike fish with teeth resembling fangs. Some species can stretch more than five feet in length, dwarfing sardines that measure a maximum of six inches long. Sanlih E-Television News reported that locals had seen large barracuda in hot pursuit of the sardines.

The flailing fish were reminiscent of those drawn to the boats of Taiwan's fire fishermen. Some fishermen draw sardines from the sea by lighting a fire at the end of a stick, Reuters reported. The fish leap from the sea and soar toward the light suspended from the fishermen's boats. The traditional practice, which uses chemicals to create fire, is centuries old, Reuters said.

Taiwan isn't the only place to experience bizarre marine activity recently. Earlier this summer, officials cleared an enormous tide of "mauve stinger" jellyfish from the beaches of southern Spain, with authorities using tractors to help clear about 11 tons of the gelatinous creatures. In June, scores of sea creatures including octopus and starfish reportedly fell from the skies over Qingdao, China, during a violent storm.

Last Autumn, about 25 octopuses crawled onto the beaches of western Britain in what one observer called "an end-of-days scenario." The mysterious oceanic event was thought to be linked to storm activity.