The Atlantic Salmon Trust’s ambitious tracking work continues across Scotland.
Over the last two years of the Moray Firth Tracking Project, the Trust has been able to identify that smolts are more commonly going missing in standing bodies of water. To support our smolts and help increase their survival during their early migration, we must explore this further to fully understand why this is happening, and the risks that they are facing…
The third and final year will focus more closely within specific areas: the River Spey, the Oykel, Deveron, the Ness and two Highland lochs. The Trust will be focusing on predator behaviour in these areas and in addition to analysing environmental DNA (eDNA) samples from scat (droppings) from bird and mammalian predators, such as cormorants and otter, the AST will also be monitoring the behaviour of brown trout and pike, in the highland lochs, using acoustic telemetry in order to analyse their interactions with smolts before, during and after the smolt run has taken place. Combining this information with the tagged smolts using the same environment, the Trust aims to gain a better understanding of the conditions under which predation takes place and when our precious smolts are most at risk so we can take action to better protect them.
The initial findings from year one of this project are suggesting migratory patterns and preferences, including how individual salmon smolts move through sea lochs and their speed of travel. The Trust recently shared a short animation, explaining what they have learned from the project so far.
For year two of this vital work, the Trust will return to the project rivers on the West Coast and will be looking closer to shore to gain a better understanding of the first few days that our smolts spend at sea. This involves analysing their speed and timings of how they move through sea lochs, in much greater detail, and their routes across coastal zones with marine developments, such as aquaculture and offshore renewables.
The West Coast Tracking Project is delivered in partnership between the Atlantic Salmon Trust, Fisheries Management Scotland and Marine Scotland.