Back from a watery grave
Tuesday 28 April 2009
Extinct in UK rivers, the burbot fish now swims at ZSL London Zoo
A fish which disappeared from UK waters over 30 years ago has been cast a lifeline by ZSL.
Four burbot fish are now being displayed in one of the Aquarium’s freshwater tanks, giving members of the public their first ever glance at the mysterious species which originate from the streams and lakes of North America and Europe.
The fish, which hasn’t been seen or caught in UK waters since the 1970s, is the only freshwater member of the cod family and joins over 200 different species in our own collection.
Brian Zimmerman, Assistant Curator of the Aquarium, said: ‘It’s a real shame that the burbot fish has disappeared from UK waters. Hopefully having some of the fish on display in our Aquarium will alert visitors to the plight of freshwater fish species in the UK and around the world, one of the most endangered groups of animals.’
The four fish have been given to the Zoo in a bid to raise the species profile. A team from The University of Southampton is investigating the cause of the burbot’s extinction and the possibility of reintroducing the species back into British rivers.
Dr Paul Kemp, who is a member of the team, said: ‘Opinion is divided over the reasons for the loss of this species. Climate change, over-fishing, pollution and habitat destruction have all been advanced as possible causes.
‘Our study is currently examining the role of changes in water temperature, genetics, and river engineering in the burbot’s extinction in the wild.’