ENVIRONMENT Agency experts have spent 11 nights searching the shallows of a Cumbrian lake as part of an operation to save the vendace, a rare Ice Age fish, from extinction.
The country’s rarest fish should have been airlifted to a tarn high up in the Borrowdale fells weeks ago, but breeding wasn’t on its mind and the chance was lost.
Now around 134,000 eggs have been taken from vendace in Derwentwater, near Keswick.
The fish were slow to spawn and could not be caught.
When vendace finally made the move into shallow water, experts were ready to help relieve them of their eggs, before transferring them into flasks and setting off over the hills to 1,500ft Sprinkling Tarn at the northern end of the Scafell mountain range.
Vendace can only be found in Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite, but poor water quality, the silting-up of spawning grounds and competition from other species are posing serious risks. New breeding locations are vital to their fight for survival.
Environment Agency senior technical specialist Cameron Durie said 29,000 eggs and 25 adult fish had already been successfully transferred to Daer reservoir in south-west Scotland.
"Ideally, vendace need to be in water at a higher altitude," said Mr Durie.
He added: "Monitoring the eggs, which have been distributed in gravel on the shoreline, is not feasible, but we have kept some eggs back in a hatchery at Keswick, which will be checked during the incubation period."
John Pinder, manager of the Bassenthwaite Lake Restoration Programme, said he hoped the Sprinkling Tarn move would be successful and that new stocks of vendace could be established.
"We have all got to work towards safeguarding the survival of this very important and historic breed of fish," he added.
Via : News & Star.