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Ice Age Fish On Display

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One the rarest fish in Britain, the Arctic char, goes on display in the Lake District.

Few anglers have seen an Arctic char, let along caught one, but now, for the first time, you can visit an aquarium in Cumbria and see a shoal of eight of these fish.

The Arctic char lives in very deep water and is the most northerly surviving freshwater fish living in the near freezing waters of Greenland, Iceland and Siberia. It is believed that they were left behind in Lake Windermere after the receding of the glacial waters of the last ice age some 11,500 years ago.

The Aquarium of the Lakes, which is situated on the banks of Lake Windermere, is the first to put these ice age fish on display to the public.

At one time the char were caught commercially on the lake until decreasing numbers put an end to it, although The Institute of Freshwater Ecology believes the Windermere char may be on the up again.

Jonathan Turner, Aquarium of the Lakes aquarist, talking of the char which are part of a captive breeding programme, said, "They've settled in well to their new home and are proving popular with visitors.

"They're beautiful looking fish, a little bit like a thin trout but with stunning colouring.

"For some reason, perhaps because of their mysterious history or rarity, they've always seemed to fascinate people.

"There's even an organisation of well-respected scientists which goes under the name of the International Society of Arctic Char Fanatics.

"Even here we often get people coming in and asking about the legendary Windermere char because to many people they're synonymous with the lake. "Up until now we've had to show them pictures in a book but now they'll be able to see the real thing."

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