Rare fish moved to cooler waters
Published 12/04/2011 | 00:18
A rare fish has been given an unusual ride up a mountain to escape the effects of climate change - on the back of llamas, the Environment Agency has said.
According to the agency, the endangered vendace needs to be protected against warming rivers and lakes and the greater threat of extreme weather such as floods and droughts that climate change could bring.
So 25,000 of the UK's rarest freshwater fish have been transported to the cooler, safer waters of a Cumbrian tarn, or mountain lake, to establish a "refuge" population in the Lake District. Rather than making the journey to Sprinkling Tarn by 4X4, the fish were given a ride for part of the two-hour trek by llamas from a charity before it was finished by fisheries officers on foot.
The young fish were hatched at a fishery near Dumfries from eggs taken from Derwentwater, thought to be the only remaining site where the fish are found in England and Wales.
Environment Agency chairman Lord Chris Smith said climate change will add to pressures on wildlife, such as a growing population and urban development, and was the biggest environmental challenge facing the world.
Lord Smith said: "In addition to the anticipated warming of lakes and rivers, we may also see an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heatwaves.
"All of these could have an impact on much of the native wildlife in England, especially aquatic species such as the rare and specialised vendace, so we are taking action now to conserve the existing populations."
Andy Gowans, fisheries technical specialist for the Environment Agency, said: "By introducing these vendace into Sprinkling Tarn, where water temperatures will be lower, it will provide an additional element of safeguarding for this endangered species.
"The fish will be closely monitored, in the hope that a self-sustaining population will be established."