7. Spain
People cool off in the Mediterranean sea at Calella's beaches in Catalunya's Costa Brava. Reuters

Holidaymakers have received a travel warning after incidents of fish attacks near popular resorts in Spain.

Fish have started to attack people in the sea, with more than 15 swimmers being bitten by the obladas every day at beaches in Alicante and Benidorm, with tourists needing first aid treatment.

Benidorm's popular Poniente beach has become a hotspot for fish attacks. These "piranha-style" fish have left swimmers with painful teeth marks and bloody wounds, especially on arms, legs and backs, reported the Spanish publication Informacion.es.

The obladas, also known as saddled seabream, are naturally peaceful fish, and are regularly caught and eaten in the country. However, scientists have claimed that climate change could be the cause behind this new and aggressive behaviour of this particular species of fish.

The saddled seabream can grow up to 30cm long. These fish are omnivores and are likely to eat small invertebrates like prawns. It is understood that rising temperatures could be the reason for their latest tendency to go after humans.

The unusually high water temperatures have increased the metabolism of the fish, meaning they are seeking more food. As per the Climatology Laboratory of the University of Alicante, the sea temperature is between 29 and 30 degrees.

Advice for travellers in Spain

It is also understood that these obladas are attracted by moles, warts or small wounds on the skin, especially in older people. This year, these fish are moving much closer to the shoreline. Therefore, tourists heading to Spain must be alert and extra careful while going in the sea.

A spokesman from the Department of Marine Species said that "there may be a high population density and they do not run away from people, hence they peck at the wounds (meat smell)."

It has also been reported that the Institute of Coastal Ecology has been aware of this new phenomenon for several years now as it was previously reported to the Alicante rescue and first aid service back in 2017, sometime in mid-August.

Swimmers are being advised not to go in the sea with jewellery or anything that shines because they can lead to attacks from species such as pomfrets, golfer fish or bluefish.

The latest fish attacks across Alicante and Benidorm are not the first time people have suffered because of fish attacks. In recent years, other Spanish islands have also reported similar attacks, including those across the Costa Brava and in Catalonia.