Tag Archives: Natural England

Lampreys return to North East England as water quality improves

A species  of rare and protected fish has been spotted in the region’s rivers following improvements in river water quality.

The Environment Agency, working with local angling groups and Natural England, has been surveying North-East rivers searching for Lamprey.

So far one spawning site on the River Wear and a total of 20 adult sea lampreys have been counted.

In North Yorkshire, Natural England has a project underway in search for sea lampreys on the River Ouse.

River and sea lampreys are also expected to return to spawning grounds on the lower River Wharfe, Swale, Nidd and Ure.

Experts say the rare, jawless fish are a good indication of the high quality of the river water and scientists are continuing to search for more lampreys on the Wear and the Ouse river catchments.

Paul Frear, Environment Agency fisheries officer, said:

“We welcome the return of the lampreys back to Yorkshire and the North East. The lampreys are like swallows. They return to the same spot to spawn within the same few days every year.

“These illusive fish are extremely selective with their spawning sites and will only nest where the water quality is good. Their appearance is a ringing endorsement of the water quality in these areas.”

Scientists say lamprey are extremely unusual. The most primitive fish in the world, it uses its mouth like a suction-cup to attach itself to the skin of a fish and rasp away tissue with its sharp probing tongue and teeth.

They outwardly resemble eels because they have no scales and an adult lamprey can range anywhere from 13cm to 100cm. They have large eyes, one nostril on the top of their heads, and seven gill pores on each side.

Claire Horseman, from Natural England, said:

 “We are hoping that the lamprey projects being undertaken by Natural England and the Environment Agency will help us better understand the migratory behaviour of these primitive species and the challenges that they face along their migratory route. With this increased understanding we can work towards restoring lamprey populations to their former status.”

During the Middle Ages lampreys were widely eaten by the upper classes throughout Europe, especially during fasting periods, because their taste is much meatier than that of other fish.

The deaths of two English kings,  Henry I and John, are said to have been from overindulging on the fish.

Source ; http://northstar.boards.net/thread/218/lamprey-return-region-quality-improves

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Unique Holy Island hut torched in suspected arson attack

An organic hut at Holy Island, Northumberland, has been damaged by fire in what is thought to have been a deliberate attack.

The fire damaged hut at Holy Island

 

Arsonists are believed to be behind a blaze that almost destroyed a unique attraction at Holy Island.

Seal Hut is a wood and stone structure positioned on a remote sand dune, which was created by visitors with items they had collected on the beach.

It also housed a book in which people could write their thoughts.

But the unusual hut’s roof was completely destroyed by a fire that broke out, on Wednesday.

And the blaze is believed to have been started deliberately.  Northumbria Police have  arrested and questioned a 49-year old man in connection with the fire.

News of the suspected arson has saddened regular visitors to the hut, but is  hoped it can be re-built.

Patrick Norris, from Belford, who runs walking tours in the area : “It is sad. My feeling is if the surrounding walls which are just built up from stone off the beach are still there, people will start to put the roof back on again.

Lindisfarne Castle
Lindisfarne Castle

 

In a couple of years time, it will once again become a place where you can sit inside and have your sandwiches. The whole organic process will start again.

At just after 3pm on Wednesday, Humber Coastguard was notified of black smoke on the dunes by tourists and dispatched its island team.

Local coastguards searched the area and discovered the hut on fire.

They returned to the village where they met a Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service crew which had been dispatched from Berwick.

The coastguards transported the crew in their 4×4 vehicle to the hut, where the fire was put out after around 20 minutes having damaged the structure and destroyed its roof.

Discovered inside the hut were tyres, suggesting the fire had been started deliberately.

Seal Hut is is on the sand dune close to Caves Haven and Sandham Bay, roughly three miles from Holy Island village.

It is believed it first appeared around ten years ago although the reasons for its creation and who instigated it are a mystery.

The structure is said to be popular with tourists and walking groups, who take shelter from the elements inside, or use it as a palce to eat lunch and watch seals and other wildlife through its small window.

A book was left inside in which visitors would record their thoughts while it also contained visitor information and items people had left on the beach.

The hut is said to have grown over the years as people have added to it using driftwood washed up on the beach.

At one point, Natural England – which is responsible for the dunes on which the structure sits – dismantled the Seal Hut amid apparent health and safety concerns.

But it was soon built back up again.


Source – Newcastle Journal,  23 Aug 2014

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