Have 'biting fish' returned to Cannes?

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 22 Aug, 2018 Updated Wed 22 Aug 2018 10:42 CEST
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Seabream bites are becoming more common along France’s Mediterranean coast, with no clear explanation as to why the usually docile fish species is becoming aggressive.


Over the past six years there have been numerous cases reported by swimmers at Cannes beach, with victims describing a medium-sized spotted fish as the toothy culprit. 

The latest incident, reported by local daily Nice-Matin, saw a 68-year-old bather from Paris bitten on the leg at the cinematic city’s Moure Rouge beach.

"I just noticed a fish with black spots on the flanks, it was about 15 cm long," she told the Alpes- Maritime newspaper, adding that when she looked at her lower leg she noticed a mole she previously had there had been bitten off.

"Last year, we heard about biting fish on the beaches on the promenade of La Croisette, in particular at Bijou beach," explains a local fisherman.

Biting fish have also been reported at the Lérins Islands and at La Bocca area of Cannes.


A beach in Cannes. Photo: Bex Walton/Flickr

In fact, beachgoers in Cannes have been reporting similar scares since 2010 but it’s not just this strip of the French Riviera that’s affected but the Mediterranean as a whole.

Holidaymakers in other countries in the Med such as Spain, Israel, Greece and Turkey have posted warnings on travel sites such as TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet.

In 2017, Times of Israel also covered the spike in seabream bites along the Mediterranean coastline, suggesting global warming could be to blame for the species’ increased aggression.

“Some experts cite climate change as a major factor, and say the biting fish are only one, minor manifestation of the impact of warming temperatures,” the Israeli daily writes.

Diplodus sargus fish, known as sargo or white seabream in English and sar in French, are usually about 10 to 15 centimeters long (although they can reach 40cm) and are a common species in French waters, and for that matter on French dinner plates.

There is a risk of a bacterial infection fro untreated bite wounds but mostly it’s the fright that ‘victims’ have to get over

“[The fish] are seeking food. When they see our feet, they bite. They consider it plankton,” zoology academic Menachem Goren told The Times of Israel.



The Local 2018/08/22 10:42

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