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Rare lamprey in Manx waters

A rare, primitive type of fish, last officially recorded in the Isle of Man over a quarter of a century ago, has been discovered in the Lhen Trench.

The eel-like lampreys were found during an Inland Fisheries survey.

Although there have been anecdotal reports of them in recent years, the last officially confirmed one was in the Lower Sulby River in 1981.

Edward Oldham reports:

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Lampreys are very sensitive to pollution.

Their numbers declined after the industrial revolution to the point where they became extinct in many British river networks.

There has been a resurgance in populations in recent years but all three British species of the lamprey are still on a European list of vulnerable creatures.

DAFF's River Management Officer Karen Galtress will be setting some traps in the Lhen Trench during the next fortnight, in the hope of getting a closer look at some specimens.

The Fisheries Division is looking to arrange a more in-depth study next year to assess the size of the population more fully.

In the meantime, if you think you've seen a lamprey, or want more information on them, call Karen Galtress on 651544 or 450736.

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