Coastguards issued a warning today after Britain’s balmy weather sparked an outbreak of youngsters risking their lives ”tombstoning”.
The daredevil craze sees thrill-seekers throwing themselves into the ocean from cliffs, piers, rocks and sea walls while attempting to stay bolt upright – like a tombstone.
During the weekend several youths were spotted leaping 65ft off a harbour in Plymouth, Devon – at a notorious spot known as Dead Man’s Cove.
They were pictured tombstoning just yards from where a teen tombstoner was left paralysed and wheelchair-bound in 2010.
The jumpers downed cans of lager before hurling themselves off a harbour wall – clearing the jagged rocks below by just a few feet.
Incredibly some of the youngsters were jumping into the sea NAKED – in a craze they have dubbed MOONSTONING.
The fast-growing craze of tombstoning has killed at least 20 people in Britain and seriously injured or paralysed 60 in the last nine years.
A Coastguard spokesman warned teenagers against tombstoning and described it as ”extremely dangerous”.
He said: ”We don’t want to stop people from enjoying themselves but there are instances where people have been badly injured or killed from jumping off rocks.
”You get undertows and people get hurt, Particularly if there is a swell running. People need to be aware of the dangers associated with tombstoning.
”It is extremely dangerous and when it goes wrong it can have devastating results. We would warn anyone against attempting these kind of stunts.”
The tombstoners in Plymouth were queuing up to leap into the sea on Sunday despite “danger of death” warning signs.
It is not strictly illegal but police have the power to disperse groups of kids if they are at risk of harming themselves or causing a disturbance.
The Plymouth seafront was the scene of tombstoning tragedy in 2010 when 17-year-old Ben Thompson broke his neck after leaping off an 8ft harbour wall.
He misjudged the depth and was left paralysed and wheelchair-bound for life.
The UK’s first known fatality was Stephen Royston, 24, who jumped 100ft (35m) into a water-filled quarry at Kit Hill, Cornwall, in 2003.
In August 2007 16-year-old Sam Boyd died after leaping into Minehead Harbour in Somerset where he was washed out to sea.
Father-of-six Delwyn Jones, 46, was killed in June 2007 when he jumped 30ft (9.1m) at low tide in Torbay, Devon.
Last year saw two more deaths – 22-year-old Darrell Teal who drowned after leaping from the 40ft-high Devil’s Bridge at Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria and 15-year-old Daniel McCullagh who plunged 20ft into the River Nene at Woodford Lock near Kettering, Northants, and never resurfaced.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution have launched campaigns in recent years to try to stop such tragedies.
They warn jumpers are at risk of hitting submerged rocks, misjudging changing tides or being dragged under by currents.