An unusually fast and high tide wreaked havoc on a crowded beach in Puerto de Santa Maria, in the Andalusian province of Cádiz, on Saturday when it arrived and swept away towels and beach chairs.
Within minutes, the water level rose dramatically, surprising those eating lunch in the crowded chiringuitos who had to run through the water to retrieve their belongings.
Video footage shows people scrambling to try to pick up items swept away by the currents, including sun loungers and umbrellas and a wooden walkway set up on the beach for easy access to the water.
Even the view of lifeguards was swallowed up by the unusual tide from Valdelagrana beach, in what many have dubbed “a mini tsunami”.
“I’ve been coming here for many years and it’s not normal,” a bather told Spanish newspaper Nius Diario.
However, El Puerto de Santa Maria council authorities issued a statement to reassure bathers that the phenomenon was caused by an unusually high tide with the full moon, and “under no circumstances can it be considered a “mini-tsunami”.
“If this had been the case, it would have affected the entire bay and the coast,” said a statement issued on Sunday.
A recent Unesco study highlighted the threat of a tsunami on this part of the coast, identifying the nearby town of Chipiona as one of five areas at high risk of suffering a tsunami in the next thirty years.
Spain has set up an alert system to warn the public in the event of a tsunami which, when activated, would send warnings to mobile phones in the designated area.