Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Thought of escape not just a pipedream for farm trout

Something fishy as the trout try to escape their fish farm

The wild salmon is known as nature's great athletic champion - but this startling image suggests it could have a rival in the brown trout.



While salmon are famed for their ability to migrate hundreds of miles and bound upstream to spawn, their cousins back on the farm are showing remarkable acrobatic skills as they bid for freedom.

These trout on a Hampshire fish farm rivalled the stars of The Great Escape as they leapt three feet from the water into 8in metal pipes in an attempt to escape their destiny - a supermarket shelf.

The animals are farmed in four ponds which have no nets, and around a quarter are eaten by other creatures.

The pipes feeding each pond with fresh water from a tributary of the River Itchen at Alresford proved a challenging escape route.

One onlooker described how the fish leapt three feet into the pipes and then swam another 30 feet against a strong current, before emerging into the stream.

"These fish are like Steve McQueen with fins. The only thought on their mind is to escape," he said.

Like the salmon, wild trout head upstream to spawn, so these farmed fish would have been following their instinct in leaping the artificial waterfalls.

Wildlife photographer Dennis Bright, who captured the images, said: "It was an incredible sight.

"They are doing a remarkable job getting through that pipe. I imagine the trout are quite stressed in the ponds because it is a free-for-all for predators. The fish don't stand a chance."

But a farm worker added: "If I had otters, kingfishers and osprey eating my friends and family I would be trying to escape too."

However, the perils are only starting for these fish - there are numerous predators waiting for them in the stream as they emerge.

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