VISITORS watched on in amazement as a muntjac deer jumped off the end of Clacton Pier into the North Sea before swimming ashore.

The deer was spotted by a member of the pier staff early on Monday as it ran towards the main entrance at the bottom of Pier Gap and bumped into the front doors.

It then disappeared only to be seen soon after running along the 360 metre long landmark attraction towards the tip of the structure where anglers were fishing.

Nigel Brown, the pier’s communications manager, said the deer then hid under boards in the shade.

“We contacted the RSPCA and the Coastguard as we feared that it could be spooked and jump,” he said.

“We had staff posted to ensure that no one got near the animal or frightened it in any way.

“However, it was as we were making plans of what to do next that it bolted and jumped off the end of the pier into the North Sea.

“No one seemed very sure how it would cope in the water and first it swam towards the West Beach but there were quite a few people gathered. It then made its way under the pier, out the other side and came up onto the beach on the east side.

“It must have been really tired after its exertions, but it still had the strength to run off along the beach towards Holland-on-Sea.”

Mr Brown added that there were quite a few people who saw it as it ran past them.

“We have no idea where it had come from but there are muntjacs on Clacton Golf course which is not all that far away,” he said.

“We just hope it managed to find its way off the beach and to a place of safety.

“It was one of our more unusual visitors and although there have been whales, dolphins, tigers and elephants on the pier over the years we think this was the first deer.”