Monday, 2 February 2015

Breeding ground sought of small Thames fish that smells of cucumber

There is a call-out to Londoners for volunteers to help scientists find out more about a rare species of British fish, the smelt (Osmersus eperlanus), which curiously smells like cucumbers. It is found in the Thames in central London.

The project by scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), funded by a grant of £97,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, will launch in March, with the aim of discovering where this silver-coloured fish breeds in the river.

Smelt are an important fish species; not only as a potential food source for other animals but because their presence indicates good health in an estuary.

In the Thames there is a small but significant breeding population, one of the few remaining in the country.

Joe Pecorelli, manager of the London's Rivers project at ZSL, says: “The Thames is London’s greatest wilderness, yet still there are many things we don’t know about life in the river.

“The fact that the smelt, a nationally rare fish, returned to the Thames 20 years ago after more than a hundred years’ absence is a good sign.

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