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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 August, 2004, 05:26 GMT 06:26 UK
Tropical fish caught at Southend
Southend Pier
Southend Pier was the unlikely location for the tropical catch
A tropical fish normally found in the Mediterranean has been caught by a man fishing off the pier at Southend.

The exotic-looking rainbow wrasse, which has red fins and yellow stripes running along its body, was caught at the Essex resort at the weekend.

The species is usually found in warmer waters but experts believe the catch is an example of rising sea temperatures luring tropical fish to Britain.

Expert David Knapp said the fish was a sign the Thames Estuary is warming up.

On the increase

The curator of the Sea Life Adventure Centre in Southend said: "A change of about three degrees Celsius (approx five degrees Fahrenheit) may seem very small to us but in the grand scheme of ecology it is quite a lot.

"Our sea could now even be called temperate rather than cold."

Mr Knapp said the warmer water is encouraging different forms of sealife to flourish.

He added: "The red mullet which used to be very rare has now taken up residence in our waters as has the European sea bass.

"Catches of unusual fish are definitely on the increase."

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