Nottingham man becomes first to photograph all UK native freshwater fish

Wildlife and nature photographer Jack Perks has devoted his life to capturing some of the UK’s most elusive species, with a penchant for underwater subjects. The “Fish Twitcher”, as he is known on some of his social media accounts has unsurprisingly racked up quite a following after carrying out such a seemingly impossible task.

FKN: One hell of a feat Jack! How long did it take you?
JP: It took 7 years going across the UK to all kinds of rivers, canals and ponds, filming everything from the tiny Spined loach (Cobitis taenia) to huge Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus). I tallied up the fish to be 53 species, though there was some debate if it should be 54 with the Burbot (Lota lota). I’m confident they are now extinct in Britain, though also happy if I’m proven wrong!

FKN: Which species proved to be the most difficult?
JP: River lamprey (Lamptera fluviatilis) were certainly a challenge. They are the rarest of the three species we have and are supposedly responsible for killing King Henry 1st from eating a surfeit of them. I visited North Yorkshire, on the Ouse with Angus Lothian from the University of Durham who was tagging to fish to observe their movements. I was a bit worried we wouldn’t see any but sure enough we found some of these ancient fish.

FKN: What problems do you think our natives face and how can we overcome them?
JP: Lots of problems, unfortunately. Although rivers have improved in water quality, they still contain a plethora of harmful chemicals, pollutants and toxins. Plastic has been quite widely reported on recently and can build up in food webs also. Invasive species such as the American signal crayfish and floating pennywort. I think it is a case of reporting the major issues to groups that can help and try to make a difference where we can.

Zander, Sander lucioperca, Nottingham

FKN: How does angling affect our native fauna? Do you have any thoughts on this?
JP: I was a very keen angler when younger and still manage to wet a line occasionally. I think the majority of anglers are responsible people who admire wildlife. Rod license sales, for example, contribute millions to river habitat restoration which benefits many species.

FKN: Your work has taken you quite far Jack. Which are your most noteworthy achievements?
JP: I always enjoy working with the Springwatch team, especially as it is a chance to showcase fish to a more general wildlife audience. I’ve worked on a few angling series which have been fun, including travelling to the south of France filming huge carp for Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing.

FKN: Any plans for the future?
JP: I have a book coming out with Mark Everard in May called “The Complex Lives of Britain’s Freshwater Fishes” and I’m working on a fish film project which will be launching in October. For me, I’d like to film some more European fish species and bulk up my marine portfolio, as living in Nottingham I’ve not had many chances!

Gudgeon, Gobio gobio, resting on the riverbed, Nottinghamshire

FKN: Many thanks for your time Jack and we wish you the best of luck with your future endeavours. If you’d like to see more of Jack’s work, check out one of his many social media channels, listed below.
Facebook – Jack Perks Wildlife Media
Instagram – @fishtwitcher
Twitter – @JackPerksPhoto

*all images are copyright Jack Perks Photography. Images may only be reused with written permission from the owner.

Max Pedley

Max Pedley has kept fish all his life, but only really got involved in the hardcore side of the hobby around 5 years ago. Apistogramma and other South American dwarf cichlids really make him tick, but he also has a special passion for Wild type Bettas, West African Dwarf cichlids and all Characins. Max enjoys keeping up to date with the taxonomic side of fishkeeping.