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Swimming Upstream, Chasing A Pipe Dream


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Swimming upstream, chasing a pipe dream

THE owners of a Hampshire trout farm were baffled when dozens of fish began to disappear - until a wildlife photographer revealed the startling truth.

Dennis Bright captured extraordinary images of the trout leaping a metre out of the water into a 20-centimetre pipe used to fill their pond.

The plucky trout then fought against the current for 10 metres until they reached the end of the pipe - and freedom in a tributary of the River Itchen, near Alresford.

Bright said: "It was an incredible sight. Swimming against the current is instinctive for trout as they head upstream to spawn but they are doing a remarkable job getting through that pipe."

The 59-year-old photographer said he could understand why the trout were making their bold bid for freedom.

"I imagine the trout are quite stressed in the ponds because it is a free-for-all for predators.

"When birds come along the fish don't stand a chance.

"… They are jumping for freedom in large volumes. But sadly I think their fate will be less than happy - there are otter, herons and many other predators feeding from the stream."

Hampshire Trout Farms owner David Riley said he would be extremely surprised if more than one or two fish were escaping via the pipe.

"I have been a farmer here for about 30 years and have never seen a fish make it to the other side but I know Dennis and if he says he has seen it, I believe him," he said.

"November and December is the mating season in the river and it is natural for them to jump at waterflows.

"It is not entirely impossible that they are getting through the pipe but, if they do, it would just be one or two.

"The pipe leads to the watercress fields, which are only 150 yards [137 metres] long. If they were getting there in large quantities we would certainly see them.

"We already lose quite a lot of our fish to natural predators and I wouldn't like to think we are losing any more through the pipe," Riley said.


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