The Vendace | Britain’s Rarest Fish?

vendace 011 The Vendace | Britain’s Rarest Fish?

According to Webster’s, the Vendace is “a European lake whitefish (Coregonus Willughbii, or C. Vandesius), native of certain lakes in Scotland and England. It is regarded as a delicate food fish.” Seeing as how this entry comes from the 1913 edition, Webster is forgiven for not adding the fact that this fish dating back to the ice age could be on the brink of extinction.

The two remaining vendace populations are in Derwentwater and Bassethwaite, but it’s the latter where the fish could be facing extinction — according to Dr Ian Winfieldorf of Lancaster’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (via News & Star), who has recently embarked on “night-filming forays in freezing water conditions…to find evidence of Britain’s rarest fish”.

To date, the vendace have chosen not to appear in this fish-on-the-wall documentary (sorry) but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve disappeared. Working with the Environmental Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage, the Centre has been monitoring the two lakes since the mid-‘90s using hydro-acoustic systems and netting.

“Bassenthwaite’s vendace face a number of environmental problems, including silting, low oxygen levels and competition from other fish,” says Dr Winfieldof. “Roach eat their food and ruffe take their eggs. Climate change will also have an impact.”

So, what does the future hold for vendace, if any? Well, if the Bassenthwaite population is indeed lost, there’s a possibility they can be re-introduced using fish from Loch Skene. Further field trials are being conducted on various artificial spawning methods “to keep eggs free from excessive silting”.

Phew. Hopefully these efforts will keep the vendace listed in Webster’s as a non-extinct fish species.

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