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Maree charr spawning sites remain elusive

Posted: Tuesday 2 December, 2008 @ 18:37:28

Colin A, Fergus M, Peter M, Alex L, Colin B, Nicola T, Greg J, Ben R, Ron G & Toliie charr.

There are two ‘morphs’ (some would say ‘species’) of Arctic charr in Loch Maree, a big-eyed dwarf morph which rarely exceeds 20cm in length and is benthic [bottom living], and a much larger pelagic plankton feeding, morph which reaches at least 32cm in length (click here). One of the aims of Arctic charr discovery week 2008 was to locate spawning areas for charr in Loch Maree, using an assortment of gill nets, fyke nets and a ROV (Remote Operating Vehicle)


We were delighted to welcome back Prof Peter Maitland and Alex Lyle from the Fish Conservation Centre to the Loch Maree Hotel for Char week '08 (24th - 28th Nov), and other charr biologists: Dr Eric Verspoor (FRS Freshwater laboratory), Ron Greer, Dr Colin Adams (Glasgow University) and Dr Colin Bean (SNH Fisheries Officer). With a rare gather up of charr expertise all in one place, a Charr Conservation and Management Workshop was organised for the Thursday afternoon, to which biologists from two other trusts also attended. [PS: The report can be found on downloads page or by clicking here]


The week saw much netting activity. Colourful male charr were caught and returned to Loch Tollie and Loch Clair (near Badachro) respectively after going ‘on tour’ to Gairloch and Poolewe Primary Schools; charr were also caught in Loch Braigh Horrisdale and from Loch Maree. All fish were photographed, measured, and samples were taken for genetic analyses and for parasite and stomach content analyses. Students at Gairloch Secondary School were treated to a 'Maitland and Lyle' practical class which involved dissection of trout caught in a Tollie net.


In terms of generating interest in charr the week was a success. However, no spawning areas were located; and further work is required to find these places. Nevertheless, much useful information was gathered and there was much discussion and debate on a wide range of charr and other fish and fisheries management issues late into the evening.


Many thanks to all participants, particularly volunteers Mark Williams, Fergus Mackenzie, Lloyd and Christian Gudgeon, Greg Jeffries and Nicola Tallach. Special thanks to Nick Thomson and Mark Vincent at the Loch Maree Hotel for great hospitality. The week was funded by Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Government via RAFTS. [A more detailed report will follow.]