Beachgoers jumped into action to rescue a bird that got caught in a fishing line in the sea off Portland.

And a man who bravely swam out to sea to try and help had to be assisted himself when he got caught up in the line.

Holidaymakers Louise Taggart and Simon Taggart, along with their daughter's boyfriend Paul Nicholl, were visiting Church Ope Cove on Portland when they saw a large seabird struggling in the water which had got caught on fishing line.

Hooks from the line had caught onto the bird through its beak and its leg.

Mr Nicholl swam out to help the bird, but the rest of the party became concerned for his safety as he struggled in the water.

Mrs Taggart, from Cambridgeshire, said: "We were on the beach at Church Ope Cove and saw a large bird struggling in the sea. One of our party, Paul Nicholl, rather heroically swam out to sea to rescue the bird."

She told how a woman who had also been on the beach swam out to help him as he too got caught on the line.

Mrs Taggart said: "He was out there some time and we were getting very concerned for his safety. Then a local lady on the beach swam out with a knife, as not only the bird but also Paul’s ankle was caught up in the fishing line. Paul also cut his fingers while trying to free himself and the bird.

"The cove is renowned as a safe swimming area and a lot of people were swimming in the sea there.

"Thankfully Paul, a primary school teacher from Hemel Hempstead, is a very strong swimmer, as others could have been caught and stranded by the fishing line."

She added: "The two fish hooks were really large and dangerous. There should be some sort of regulation about this. It’s sad enough that animals are probably getting caught up in wires and hooks like this every day, but it is also a very dangerous scenario for those swimming in the bay."

The woman helped bring them back to shore, after which they set out to free the bird from the hooks.

Mrs Taggart said: "One guy held the bird’s beak still while another lady carefully pulled the hook out of the top part of its beak, and then it took some time to extract the hook from its leg, poor thing. Its leg was bleeding quite badly and it was in considerable distress."

Once the bird was freed, Mrs Taggart said it managed to regain its strength and walk away.