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AQUATIC WOLVES

Swimmers needn’t beware of pike, says Susanne Masters

WILDLIFE

The poet Ted Hughes cast pike (Esox lucius) as tigers when he described their markings as “green tigering the gold”. Young pike are striped with gold that breaks up into speckles as the fish matures. Like us, Ted Hughes inhabited an era when tigers are part of our repertoire of fearsome creatures. But pike are older than the Internet and colonial explorations. An 11th century Bavarian fairy-tale calls pike “wolves among fishes”. In 12th century England pike were called aquatic wolves, and a book on fishing published in 1577 called them freshwater wolves. Britain’s last wild wolf was reportedly shot in 1680, although rumours of wild wolf sightings persisted until 1880. With wolves gone, are pike our wildest remaining predator? And of course the question for swimmers is, do we need to worry about being bitten?

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About Outdoor Swimmer

Forget about dreary March weather! The new issue of Outdoor Swimmer is a travel special, packed full of inspiring swimming stories from around the world as well as an in-depth look at swimming holidays. Wild swimming in the city; the history of swimming the Strait of Gibraltar; full event listings to plan your summer swims; plus, nutrition, technique, event reviews, news, interviews and more of your stunning photography and swim stories.