This picture shows more than 50 surfers at a popular beach flouting a plea from the RNLI to stay out of the water.

The large gathering at Polzeath beach in north Cornwall came after a warning from emergency services to stop people 'exercising in the sea'.

The RNLI is not currently providing lifeguard cover and there are concerns if people get into trouble it will put an extra strain on resources.

There are also fears that even 'competent' swimmers could encourage less proficient ones to take to the sea, so the official advice is for all to stay out the water.

Read more: Stay out of the water during lockdown, urges RNLI

However this image, taken by Polzeath Coastguard, shows the scale of those flouting the advice as around 50 surfers can be seen in the water.

The image was taken at the beach on Wednesday, April 22, and the coastguard shared it with a plea on their Facebook page.

They wrote: "We would like reiterate the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and RNLI's advice from the last few weeks as we are seeing more and more people entering the water.

"We appreciate that for some people their exercise be it surfing or swimming might ordinarily involve using the coast and its resources.

"But we would ask people to think seriously about the unintended consequences of what could happen if something went wrong while they were in the sea or at the coast.

"As we know, all too well, the sea can be a dangerous place for even the most experienced swimmer or surfer.

"Our advice is to give the coast a miss just now – it will still be there when the crisis is over and things start to return to normal.

"If you get into trouble and have to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard, you're then putting frontline emergency responders and their families at risk of coronavirus along with avoidable pressure on the NHS.

"Along with HM Coastguard's advice the RNLI has also stated that the public should not take part in any water based activity on or in the sea, to reduce the risk to the charity's volunteer crews.

"It has also paused the roll-out of lifeguard patrols onto all of our beaches."