A dead man spotted floating in the water at Hove this morning led emergency services on a macabre journey to retrieve his body.
The body was first seen in the water near the shore south of the King Alfred Leisure Centre at about 11.30am.
The RNLI Brighton Lifeboat was called out, but high winds and the large breaking waves meant it was too dangerous to send out the crew.
Meanwhile, the body was drifting east, about 50m out to sea. The Brighton lifeboat crew joined members of the Solent Coastguard mobile unit to help retrieve it from the beach.
As it approached Brighton Marina at about 1.30pm, it was recovered, and handed over to Sussex Police and the ambulance service.
An RNLI spokesman said: “The RNLI exists to save life at sea. This is a rare example of where a judgment call is made to not launch as the risk to our crew and equipment outweighs the benefit of any possible outcome.”
Brighton artist Linda Boucher saw the crews pulling the body ashore. Writing on her blog, she said: “It’s always heartbreaking when this happens. At the moment the body is unidentified, and the seafront officer said they weren’t sure if they had fallen from a boat, or gone in the water at Hove.”
She added: “The RNLI are my heroes.”
Sussex Police are now looking through their missing person records in an attempt to establish the man’s identity.