Keeping a burning ambition alight in freezing waters

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Spending Christmas in freezing open water with snow falling is not the way many people would like to pass their time during the festive season.

But 47-year-old Mark Barrow, of Wetherby, is on a mission to film fish in the River Wharfe and other open water.

“I make amateur films with the footage I gain and place this on various social media sites,” explained Mark who runs Beneath British Waters on facebook.

“I spend as much time as I can filming in the river at Wetherby and sometimes film at night too with a lighting system.

“I also film underwater 12 months of the year and recently was filming grayling when we had snow at Wetherby between Christmas and the New Year.”

Mark, who trained as a diver when he was 20 and submerges with scuba or uses a snorkel in shallow water, added that the last year has seen him achieve a personal ambition.

“In 2017 I managed to film a 20lb-plus pike spawning which was a real hit with many people, seeing as how it had taken me 15 years to achieve.”

The self-employed landscape gardener said fishery owners want him to film lakes and rivers for their anglers and it turns up pleasing results, including locally.

“The water quality of the River Wharfe is improving and there has been a return of roach and dace,” said Mark.

“We also get salmon coming upstream and quite a lot of salmon par have been caught at Wetherby too which is a great sign.

“Other species of fish that reside in the river are pike, barbel, eels, and we possibly think the occasional carp, there are wild brown trout and grayling too.

“The river itself seems to be very healthy with freshwater mussel beds that filter feed from the river.”

Mark added that the river stock and habitat was set to improve further with the help of Wetherby and District Angling Club which he works closely with.

“We had a report done by Professor Jon Grey of the Angling Trust and the University of Lancaster.

“This pointed out some areas we can help on the Ings section of the Wharfe.

“With funding from the angling improvement fund and more advice and help from Professor Grey, the Environment agency, Yorkshire water and the Angling Trust, we will start work this year to improve the habitat in and around the Wharfe using the fallen trees and reeds to help create and improve habitat.”

Mark is also making a film on the amount of plastic that is entering the river systems.

“It seems to be getting worse with lots of plastic on the bank sides and other areas.”

Other plans for the future involve filming salmon and a trip to a deep quarry to film catfish and showing his films to various agencies.

But a burning ambition comes from watching shark programmes as an eight year old, which spawned his dream to film underwater species.

“Two ventures I want to do is to film great white sharks (not in a cage) free in the ocean in Australia or south Africa, showing that they are not the killers they are perceived to be.

“And lastly my most adventurous of films would be to film freshwater crocodiles in Australia in their natural environment.”

But for now it is back to the chilly local waters in his bid to bring more images to audiences in their living rooms.

“Yes winter is so cold at times beyond belief but I never question why because every now and then something unique comes along and to get that on film is special,” Mark added.

Mark will give a talk at Wetherby Sports Association on Mark 14 at 8pm when he will show footage of species found in the River Wharfe.