Doncaster transport police come to rescue of tropical fish

A photo of a Telmatochromis temporalis - the rare African tropical fish that went missing
A photo of a Telmatochromis temporalis - the rare African tropical fish that went missing

British Transport Police officers from Doncaster, more used to patrolling trains and dealing with crime, had another challenge on their hands to save 48 live rare African tropical fish that had been removed from a train travelling from London.

The fish, which were being transported in a case from the National History Museum in London to the University of Hull for research purposes by post –graduate scholar, Kai Winkelmann were mistakenly taken off the train at Peterborough.

When Mr Winkelmann left the service at Doncaster he discovered himself fishless, and assuming they had been stolen, attended Doncaster BTP station to report the theft.

Police Sergeant at Doncaster Steve Down explained: ”A distressed Mr Winkelmann came into the office and relayed the incident. He stressed time was of the essence to find the fish as they required specialist care and would very likely die if they weren’t properly cared for in the next few hours.

“The officers at Doncaster quickly realised the scale of the problem and called BTP and rail staff colleagues at Peterborough and Kings Cross, and the fish were quickly tracked down at Peterborough, still alive.

“We quickly made arrangements to have the fish put on the next northbound service to Doncaster where they were reunited with Mr Winkelmann who managed to continue on this journey without any further incidents. I am sure the fish are now happily swimming around their new home completely unaware of the race against time that took place to get them there!”

Mr Winklemann said: “I had been studying these fish, which have been shown to be tremendously valuable for evolutionary biology, for over three years. With great effort I collected the parental fish of the ‘stolen’ ones from Lake Tanganyika in Africa in 2012. The fish that went missing were their first generation offspring and the last ones I had left, so were extremely valuable which is why I took them on the train myself and didn’t transport them by other means.

“The fish are tropical so if they stay at less than 23-29 degrees for more than a few hours they wouldn’t survive so it was vital we tracked down the case. Within moments I saw several officers on the phone and like a miracle they found it at Peterborough with the fish still alive. After a lot of persuasion by the officers at Doncaster, rail staff agreed to transport the case back up to Doncaster and I received my case back within 60 minutes and quickly travelled to Hull to get them into pre-prepared tanks

“It is thanks to the officers that these fish survived. They went the extra mile and I was extremely impressed at how efficient, determined and oragnised they were. Thanks to BTP the recovered fish have years of assisting in promising research into genetics at the University of Hull.”