Something fishy is happening in Corbière …

Hilly and John Bouteloup, who live in Corbière, were initially inclined to blame a typically thoughtless seagull when their daughter Avena asked why someone had thrown fish all over their patio.

In an effort to get to the bottom of it, Mr. Bouteloup posted a video of the bizarre spectacle on his Facebook page. One of those who saw him was Jersey’s senior meteorological officer, John Searson, who enlisted the help of Paul Chambers of Jersey’s Marine Resources in identifying the fish, two or three inches long, as being sprats.

Sprats on the balcony of Bouteloup Photo: John Bouteloup (32275289)

With the scientific duo’s investigative skills now fully engaged, they consulted images taken off the island by Dave Double and Tony Marshall. It showed waterspouts – the marine equivalent of a tornado – columns of rapidly rotating air, made visible by a mixture of condensed water vapor and the spray drawn in.

More importantly, the date of the waterspout sightings correlated with the date of Mr. Bouteloup’s video. The culprit had been unmasked – it was time.

Senior forecaster met Rob Plummer took up the story, posted this week on the government blog, to complete the explanation: “In the case of the Bouteloups garden, there was no wind damage to be seen and, enough oddly enough, no fish were found at the neighboring property, so it would have been very easy to view the event as just a prank. However, these additional details come together nicely when you observe and consider the waterspout photos of the 2 November.

“You can see the waterspouts tilting at a certain angle, something close to 45 degrees. This means that if a school of fish were sucked up to a great height, we would actually expect it to fall several hundred yards from its source. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to receive localized splashes of sprats, without feeling any of the extreme winds that would have been at the base of the waterspout, ”Mr Plummer wrote.

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