The usually calm waters of the Swan River in Western Australia were churned up into a frenzy by hundreds of feeding salmon this weekend.

The flapping fish were caught on camera by Caroline Bradley, the owner of a local standup paddleboarding company, Elemental SUP. "It looked like the water was boiling. It was unreal, I was lucky I had the camera at hand," she told PerthNow after posting the clip to the company's Facebook page. It's since amassed more than 560,000 views.

The massive school of salmon surged the shore in order to feed on herring and other small baitfish. Hungry seagulls were also on standby hoping for a share of the spoils. 

The sight has amazed even local fisheries experts. “To see thousands of fish pushing in to the river and right up on the shore is quite spectacular,” Nathan Harrison of the local Department of Fisheries told 7News.

And since we all know Australia's wildlife plays by its own crazy rules, it might not surprise you to learn that these salmon are not the same leaping fish (and favourite bear snack) we're used to seeing in other parts of the world. In fact, the fish are not true salmon at all – they belong to the genus Arripidae, and are found only in Australia and New Zealand.

MORE: Watch dozens of sharks move in on a fishy feast

Along the waters off south-west Western Australia, salmon spawning season is now in full swing. The large schools feed cooperatively by herding small baitfish to the surface, where seabirds can also take their pick.

While some Facebook commenters have noted that spectacles like this one were not uncommon in the Swan River decades ago, Bradley says she hasn't seen a congregation on this scale in her seven years of working on the river. 

Local recreational fishing groups say this salmon season has been one of the best in many years, with similar feeding shows playing out in other spots along the coastline.

But it's not only local fishermen who are eagerly eyeing the schools of fish. Predators like great whites as well as dusky, tiger and copper sharks will likely be drawn by the salmon buffet, prompting local fisheries officials to issue a warning to beachgoers. “Salmon schools are a source of food for sharks, and as the salmon schools migrate along the WA coast, often sharks will be accompanying them,” Harrison said.


Top header image: Saspotato, Flickr

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