Sea Lampreys Filmed in Kent’s Great Stour
Sea lampreys have been filmed by the Environment Agency in the Great Stour for the first time and you can view the footage of the 'dish fit for a Queen' here!
Sea lampreys are extremely rare in the south east area and are more often found in the Severn Estuary and other parts of the country and the presence of the species is a landmark discovery for the Great Stour and highlights the ongoing improvement in water quality along the river in recent years. The fish were spotted by members of the Canterbury and District Angling Association in Fordwich and filmed by members of the Environment Agency’s fisheries team.
Similar looking to eels, sea lampreys are endangered and protected by law. The jawless fish date back to prehistoric times and are mainly found in estuaries and easily accessible rivers. They are an anadromous species (spawning in freshwater but completing its life cycle in the sea) and look for warm waters in which to spawn.
Dating back to the Middle Ages, it has been a custom for the people of Gloucester to send ‘Lamprey pie’ as a gift to the Royal Household on every Jubilee and Coronation. So popular were the species to the royal palate that, according to legend, King Henry I died after eating a surfeit of lampreys – a dish of which he was excessively fond. The eel-like fish are still considered to be a delicacy today, but due to the scarcity of these fish in our rivers and their legal protection in the UK, they will be imported from Canada this year.
Tom Reid, a biodiversity specialist at the Environment Agency, said:
“This is really exciting news for the Great Stour and highlights how much water quality is improving in the river.
Too often we hear about non-native species invading our watercourses and habitats, so it’s great to have reports of one of our native species returning to Kent.
We would urge anyone who sees lamprey in Kent to report them to us so that we can get an idea of how widespread they are across the county.”
Film of the lampreys may be viewed below
If you see lampreys in Kent contact the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506, email email@example.com or report it on Twitter at @EnvAgencySE
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