Zoo Watch: Renowned aquatic photographer snaps fish at Whipsnade Zoo's aquarium
PUBLISHED: 10:52 26 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:52 26 July 2019
The Whipsnade Zoo aquarium opened today and is the first of its kind to be dedicated to conserving threatened and extinct-in-the-wild freshwater fish.
Underwater photographer Jack Perks, who has worked on programmes Springwatch, Countryfile and The One Show, as well as writing two books about freshwater fish, has been taking pictures at the zoo and has found it to be a fascinating experience.
He said: "Freshwater fish are a real passion of mine - not least because freshwater habitats are the most threatened and biodiverse ecosystem on earth. "Photographing the species at Whipsnade was an opportunity to capture fish that I will likely never see in the wild - either because they are in remote locations or because they are sadly extinct in the wild.
"Being able to capture, up-close, the secret life of some of the world's most fascinating and endangered underwater creatures was an experience I couldn't turn down - I've read about many of these fish, but nothing compares to seeing them first-hand.
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"Seeing the critically endangered Pinstripe damba using their teeth to crunch through shells (as well as my underwater cameras) was wonderful, as was watching a male Forktail blue-eye put on a dazzling display by turning its fins bright yellow to impress the females.
"As early as I can remember I was out with a net and an ice cream tub, looking for creatures in local rivers and streams. I'm sure the amazing animals and exhibits at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's new aquarium will inspire a new wave of wildlife enthusiasts."
Curator of the aquarium, Alex Cliffe, said: "Incredibly, 50 per cent of the world's fish species live in just one per cent of the worlds water - freshwater habitats like lakes and rivers.
"The new Aquarium at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is not only conserving species that are at the brink of extinction, but will give our visitors an amazing glimpse into the huge range of life living in freshwater habitats, from flooded forests to African puddles, and Caribbean mangroves to Middle-Eastern caves."
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's Aquarium is free with zoo entry. Visitors can get a 10 per cent discount to see the underwater world for themselves, alongside the UK's largest Zoo's other 3500 animals, by booking online at zsl.org