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Britain mourns after Benson the 'iconic carp' goes mysteriously belly up

August 4, 2009 |  1:12 pm


In much of the United States, carp are considered by anglers to be trash fish.

But Benson, apparently, was no ordinary common carp. She was gargantuan, for starters, weighing 62 pounds. She was venerable, too, believed to be at least 25 years old.

Britishers would drive for miles to her home lake in Cambridgeshire and try to spot her, Anglers would try to catch and weigh her, but they'd always release her.

And then she went belly up.

Or, as a columnist for the Times of London states in an online story posted today, "Now she is dead, and -- just as with Diana, Princess of Wales, and Marilyn Monroe--a mythology has already started to build up  around her passing."

The story quotes Tony Bridgefoot, owner of a lakes complex that stocked Benson in 1995, as saying Benson was "an iconic carp and we are all trying to come to terms with her death." He added that fishermen wanted to catch her because of her size but also because "she was scale perfect."

Some theorize that Benson was inadvertently poisoned with improperly processed nuts used for bait. More likely, she perished because she was old, obese and beleaguered after being caught at least 63 times.

But Benson, who was named after a hole in the shape of a cigarette burn in her dorsal fin, isn't really gone. Bridgefoot will have her mounted and give her a prominent location in the lodge. "We will have guided tours and they will be full, I'm sure," he said.

--Pete Thomas

Photo: An angler poses with Benson the carp at Bluebell Lakes near Peterborough, England. Credit: Angling Times