Bosses at the Environment Agency have revealed 45,000 fish have been rescued with many more thousands dying as a result of seawater entering the Norfolk Broads.

Over the weekend, high tides from the North Sea pushed saltwater upstream towards Potter Heigham, Ludham and Acle.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of fish swam from the Rivers Bure and Thurne into lakes and dykes to breathe.

The crowded conditions in these waters led to thousands of fish dying and almost 50,000 being recused by Environment Agency officers and people living in the area..

Kim Wyatt, manager of the Big Shop on Womack Staithe, called the Environment Agency hotline on Saturday after she noticed hundreds of fish in the dyke behind her shop.

"There was a carpet of fish," said Miss Wyatt. "It was clear something was wrong."

Jon Clarke, an Environment Agency fisheries officer, checked on the waters by the staithe monitoring oxygen levels for the fish.

Since the weekend, Mr Clarke and Environment Agency crews have removed tens of thousands of living fish from dykes around the area.

Mr Clarke said several species of fish had been affected by the high saline levels, including roach, bream and perch.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “Environment Agency officers rescued 45,000 freshwater fish from the River Thurne after high tides in the Norfolk Broads pushed salt water up into a number of rivers. The rescued fish were captured at Womack Water near Ludham, and released into Hickling Broad.

“Saltwater flowing into rivers following high tides is a natural occurrence, which happens periodically along the Norfolk Broads."

When such a large amount of fish pack into one area, the water's oxygen levels can lower, and many fish had died over the weekend as a result.

Miss Wyatt said boats behind her shop were rocking as the fish tried to make their way through them.

"It was just heart breaking seeing all those fish gasping for breath and fighting each other to get to the top," she said.

"What really worries me is that these salt surges will destroy vegetation and harm other wildlife as well."

Miss Wyatt said the surges have become worse and she fears the rivers won't be able to recuperate before the next surge comes.

"This village needs to pull together," she said. "The community, the authorities, everyone should be involved. We need to work together to save the Broads.

"If we don't, we'll see it all dwindle away unless we unite and come together to tackle this."

Miss Wyatt said the staithe is a great community and everyone loves the place.

"It's just a shame to see what's happening," she said. "There's going to come a time when our great grandchildren won't be able to visit the Broads anymore."

Resident Dave Benbow said there had been several salt surges over the summer.

"This is the worst surge I have seen," he said.

"Every tide since July has brought in salt to some degree."

In Potter Heigham, Paul Rice, founder of Broads Watch and senior flood warden and emergency coordinator with North Norfolk Council, said more coordination is needed between the Broads Authority and the Environment Agency.

"While an event like this is unpreventable - and with climate change events like this are becoming more exceptional - communication is crucial to our response," Mr Rice said.

"We at the district council are happy to work alongside the Broads Authority and the Environment Agency.

"We’re here on the ground. And we can see what is happening while it's happening.

"It would have been helpful to have had more warning from the Environment Agency though.

"The guys on the ground from the agency did a sterling job to help alleviate the problem."

A spokesperson from the Broads Authority said: "While the Environment Agency is responsible for the clean-up process, we work closely with them and have provided them with any information about locations of reported dead fish."

If you see dead fish in open waters or fish in distress call the Environment Agency incident hotline on 0800 807060.