La playa de El Espejo in Los Alcázares was closed on Thursday after Murcia’s Autonomous Community ordered it as a safety measure following indications of pollution of which still the origin is unknown

About 20 hours later, on Friday morning, the shore was dotted with dead fish, all of the same species and size. “There were not too many, 20 or 30 along a 100 metre stretch of the shore, but we do not know what the cause is.

According to the President of the Neighbourhood Association of la Plaza de El Espejo, José Merino “All that we do know is that 48 hours earlier, we were showered by rainwater strewn with excrement, which carried an unbearable odour.”

Local residents believe that it has been caused because “there is no effective drainage, as several decades ago there were just a handful of us living in the area, but as they have continued to build properties there has been no improvement to the sewerage”.

The secretary of the Cofradía de San Pedro del Pinatar accused poachers who sneak around the fishing port stealing dead fish. “If they subsequently find that they can’t be used they simply throw them into the sea,” he said. “They are then carried down shore by the Levante wind.”

The mayor, Anastasio Bastida, went a stage further in criticising the practice of fishermen who throw the dead fish to the Mar Menor, instead of bringing them into the port and depositing them in a container. “We will have a meeting with the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Environment, and we will make him aware of this problem, which is repeated time after time and which then creates problems for the bathers who are alarmed by the pollution.”