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Fishy studies land Sam in deep water

Marine and Freshwater Conservation student Sam Poultney  at work on the banks of Derwentwater
Marine and Freshwater Conservation student Sam Poultney at work on the banks of Derwentwater

Student Sam Poultney is fishing for international fame.

While his counterparts were busy celebrating over the festive break, University of Cumbria scholar he was getting into deep water- as part of his studies.

Sam was patrolling the shores of Derwentwater on a mission to track Britain’s rarest fish.

During some of the harshest and darkest winter, days the marine and freshwater conservation student is searching for otter dung so he can check if the rare vendace is being eaten and possibly reveal where the fish is being spawned.

Sam said: “It’s classed as a keystone species - the vendace is Britain’s rarest fish which is only found in the Lake District. Rare fish in Cumbria is my niche.”

The marine and freshwater conservation course is still in its infancy at the university and he’s among the first students to embark on the three-year programme. However, he has been offered a seven month work placement in the fjords of Norway following his research.

Alongside his dissertation, this means extending his studies by switching to the four-year ‘with-placement’ version of the course.

Programme leader Dr Gill Notman said: “ The vendace is a protected species and we have received advice on the best way to carry out his research without disturbing the fish or their habitat.

“We have amazing access to lakes which are home to the country’s rarest freshwater fish, and our marine and freshwater conservation students can really make the most out of the opportunities available. “We hope the results of Sam’s vendace research and his work in the Norwegian fjords will make valuable contributions to the Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas, generating both national and international interest.”