Most of the fish escaped alive, however, and are now delighting divers, especially around the island of Gozo, which lies about three miles to the north of Malta.
“We’re seeing them all around Gozo,” Richie King, who runs the Scuba Kings dive-centre on the island, told Divernet later in the week.
“We dived yesterday at Mgar ix-Xini, and our try-divers and even instructors couldn’t believe their eyes – it was wall-to-wall fish!”
Sea or gilt-head bream (Sparus aurata) can grow as long as 70cm (though they are usually about half that length) and weigh more than 7kg.
Scuba Kings Gozo, which is based in Marsalforn, is the island’s only British-owned PADI and BSAC dive-centre, says King.
You can see his video of a sea bream shoal here.