The largest population in English waters of an endangered species of mollusc has almost been destroyed. Insect charity Buglife has called for an inquiry after the death of up to 90% of the freshwater pearl mussels at the Ennerdale Water in Cumbria.

It is thought that water levels in the outflow of the lake fell, causing the temperature to go up and oxygen levels to go down.

“This is devastating news,” said Buglife chief executive Matt Shardlow.

About 80,000 freshwater mussels were lost in this single instance, out of an estimated total population in England and Scotland of about 12m, according to Buglife.

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