Reflecting on the 2018 smolt run working with the GWCT

By Adele Green, Bournemouth University

In April 2018 I completed a placement on the River Frome, Wareham, Dorset, as a research assistant from Bournemouth university in collaboration with the GWCT for SAMARCH. From late March to mid-May, the team aim to recapture a percentage sample of the previous years tagged fish. An acoustic bubble is positioned on the main river to divert fish down through the RST on the Mill Stream.

The shifts were run by a supervising fisheries scientist and one research assistant (i.e. myself). Day shifts began at 08:00 and night shifts at 20:00. At the start of the shifts, we entered the fluvarium to check water flow and ensure the trap was running correctly. The RST was then lowered into the river and environmental data and timings entered in the recording sheet. We set up the laptop to record any tagged fish caught, and a tub of anaesthetic solution to temporarily and humanely sedate the fish for efficient processing.

The RST was checked every 30 minutes for salmon (WSSM) and trout (TSM) which would then be netted out into a tub of freshwater. Any other species found were noted and released downstream. The salmon and trout were then put into the anaesthetic solution and the fisheries scientist would check them individually for a tag. Any tagged fish had their details entered onto the computer and scale samples taken; different sides for smolt and parr. Any that weren’t tagged, had their measurements logged, and scale samples were taken from one of each size. Multiple fish caught of the same size were recorded but had no scales samples taken. The scales are sent off to Exeter University and used to determine the sex of the fish and the growth and lifecycles at sea. The fish were placed back into the freshwater tub to readjust to conditions and then released safely downstream.

Going into this placement, I had no experience of working with fisheries and was eager to learn more about research processes and sampling techniques. I expected the night shifts to be busier than they were, with capture rates barely reaching 20, however this was likely due to the temperature not reaching 12°C. As the placement had many quiet periods, opportunities arose to learn more from the fisheries scientist of the biology and physiology of salmon and trout, and the small morphological differences to assess when identifying the species.

Catching the occasional minnow and roach prompted discussions of the ecology of the river, with eels, perch and dace also caught throughout the run. I learnt more about the lifecycles of salmon and trout, their migration patterns, and their evolutionary responses to risk and challenges. For example, how the majority of smolt migration occurs during the night, likely due to adaptation or behavioural decision making to decrease predation risk and/or increase feeding due to a higher abundance of food, and so day shifts are likely to be much quieter.

Whilst working with supervising scientist, Bill Beaumont, I gained further knowledge of tagging techniques used to track fish. For example, the functional differences between acoustic and radio tagging, how they collect the data, and the environmental conditions that affect them. Whilst visiting the lab between processing times, I was shown how to read the information contained in the fish scales; analysing scales is similar to observing tree rings with aging and growth, condensed lines indicate winter growth, spread/spacious lines indicate summer growth and erosion on these lines indicate spawning. These quiet periods between trap checks also gave opportunity to engage with other scientists in the field to learn more about their careers. This provided me with important directional knowledge and contacts for experience in fisheries ecology and management.

Source: SAMARCH Blog

SAMARCH Goes Global Engagement Fusion Seminar

By Ossi Turunen, Bournemouth University

I attended the Global Engagement Fusion Seminar at Bournemouth University on 24th January to present and share my own experiences with the SAMARCH project. The seminar was hosted by BU academics Professor Genoveva Esteban and Dr Dan Franklin whom both presented their on-going and forthcoming work with the Interreg Channel Programme.

I had prepared, in collaboration with another BU student, Oskari Heimonen, a short presentation to highlight the great placement opportunities SAMARCH has to offer. Other presentations were given by other BU academics and our French peers from Agro Campus Ouest.

Ossi explaining Atlantic salmon life stages before going into more detail with the parr tagging process
Oskari explaining the smoltification and the process of smolt trapping

Barbara, Charlotte and Manon presenting the communications guide they had produced for SAMARCH project

This Global Engagement Fusion Seminar was first of its kind and from my perspective, especially after discussing with all the other presenters and also with the audience, the seminar was a great success. In the future the upcoming SAMARCH Newsletter will keep you updated on events like this!

Source: SAMARCH Blog

Unraveling the mysteries of sea trout at sea

SAMARCH is beginning to unravel the mysteries of sea trout at sea. We have started to analyse the data from the four DST’s recovered this summer and have looked at the depth data recorded, below is a graph of a Tamar sea trout showing its maximum and minimum swimming depths over a 10 day period. The sea trout was caught and tagged in the Tamar in mid-December 2017, it then went to sea in mid-January and in mid-May the fish died and the tag floated to the surface and was washed up on Pentewan Beach, near St Austell Cornwall. The tag was found by a beach walker who posted the tag to us in return for a £50 reward.

The preliminary data reveals that the fish spent much of the night time near the surface, but during the day undertook multiple dives to depths of up to 50m and that it spent at least 80% of daylight hours at depth greater than 10m. This new data questions the effectiveness of current rules to protect sea trout at sea which is that no net should be set within three or five meters of the surface.

A further 300 sea trout will be tagged between December 2018 and January 2019, that will bring more data to improve the sea trout management in coastal waters.

Source: SAMARCH Blog

Olivia Simmons joins the SAMARCH project!

I have recently arrived from Canada and started a PhD position with Bournemouth University and the Salmon and Trout Research Centre at GWCT as part of the SAMARCH project. Before moving to England, I lived in Iceland, where I completed my Master’s degree studying trophic interactions between rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), sea trout (Salmo trutta), and Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus).

For my PhD thesis I will test the hypothesis that current declines in anadromous salmonid populations are a function of changes in their migration phenology. More specifically, I will be studying Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in the River Frome, and am interested in what intrinsic factors (such as the length and weight of juvenile salmon) and extrinsic factors (such as water temperature) affect the likelihood of salmon surviving to adulthood and migrating back to their natal rivers, where they lay their eggs. Atlantic salmon have a complicated life cycle, and there is still a lot to learn about their long migrations. I hope that the findings from my research will help inform management and conservation efforts for salmon in this region.

Source: SAMARCH Blog

New traps deployed and cold nights ahead for GWCT staff

This week we deployed two rotary screw traps (RST) into the upper Tamar catchment to catch sea trout kelts on their post spawning migration back to sea. The traps are currently anchored in the middle of pools ready to be positioned for trapping once spawning commences later this month. The RST work when they are positioned in a narrow channel of fast running water, with enough flow to rotate the drum, the fish swims into the drum, usually in coloured water or at night and gets slowly rotated back into a collection chamber at the rear of the trap. It will mean long cold nights of work for GWCT staff – brrrrrrrrrrr.

The trapped kelts will have two tags inserted into their body cavity, an acoustic tag and a data storage tag (DST). The acoustic tag will tell us when the fish reaches the lower river and goes out to sea and upon recovery the DST will tell us how deep the fish swims and its location at sea. We trialled the recovery of the tags last winter, where we tagged 16 sea trout kelts, and recovered tags from 4 sea trout which are revealing some fascinating data on the depths these fish swim at sea.

Source: SAMARCH Blogs

SAMARCH Goes Career Spotlight at BU

By Ossi Turunen, Bournemouth University

I attended a Career Spotlight event at Bournemouth University on Monday 15th October to present my own experiences with the SAMARCH project and to meet new inspiring people. The event started with a keynote speaker Brian Heppenstal from Hengistsbury Head followed by a panel discussion by Bournemouth University graduates and academics, including Professor Genoveva Esteban who also covered some of the SAMARCH project during the discussion.

Explaining the basics of the SAMARCH project

The event ended in a networking session where current students were able to ask more questions from the speakers and find new career opportunities. I had made a poster about my SAMARCH placement which I presented in the networking session. With Professor Esteban and Jack Dazley we had the chance to discuss with people about SAMARCH and promote the placement opportunities.

A poster about my SAMARCH placement

Source: SAMARCH Blogs

BUG: Bournemouth University Global Environmental Solutions

BU Global Environmental Solutions (BUG) is a consulting arm of the Faculty of Science and Technology at Bournemouth University, located within the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences. They provide a unique blend of academic and practical expertise to address global ecological issues; developing sustainable solutions to support industry and regulators alike.

BUG’s core staff are internationally recognised leaders in their respective fields of research and, supported by a comprehensive laboratory and field monitoring capability, we provide our clients with a ‘one-stop-shop’ for ecological monitoring and scientific advisory services. Our holistic approach to ecosystem assessment covers terrestrial, freshwater, estuarine and coastal environments.

For more information, visit their website: BUG

Department of Life and Environmental Science receives Gold award for Green Impact

BU’s Department of Life and Environmental Science (LES) has received a Gold award for Green Impact, after taking part in the Green Impact challenge back in 2015.

Green Impact Universities and Colleges is an environmental accreditation and awards scheme delivered by the NUS, in partnership with the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC).

It aims to empower people and their departments to take action on sustainability and reward them for their environmental efforts within their workplace. 

The award covers measurable actions relating to topics around sustainability – including communication, travel, recycling, and energy – and the number of actions completed correlates to a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award. 

Main activities included promoting the opportunities that BU offers staff to enhance sustainability, such as water saving, Green Week, and sustainable travel; and the identification and documentation of the five most significant negative environmental impacts and suggestions for solutions in the coming year. 

We would like to congratulate the team and the department on this for their hard work and persistence over the last 4 years.

For more information on how to get involved, current activities, and more about the team follow this link:

Family Science Festival

Family Science Festival

We are excited to announce that on Sunday 17th March 2019 we will be hosting the first Family Science Festival in Dorchester.

We have invited scientists to bring a range of interactive activities. Bring along all the family and check out the pop-up museum, handle bugs, observe living microbes, augment your reality, identify fossils, and much more!

The event is suitable for all ages, with open access and free entry

The festival will run from 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm at The Corn Exchange, Dorchester

If you have any further questions please contact us via email:
Professor Genoveva Esteban or Katie Thompson 



BU2025: A new vision

Bournemouth University 2025 (BU2025) vision has been released. BU2025 is the next step in BU’s development, building on our success. We have retained the core of what makes BU different, and the culture and approach that our students and staff value.

Our values

We strive for excellence in everything that we do.

We value and respect diversity and act to ensure that we are inclusive.

We are imaginative, innovative and create solutions to problems.

We take responsibility for the impact of our actions and focus our activity as a learning community on making a positive contribution to society.

Fusion themes

Fusion themes for BU2025 are the following:

• Business & Economic Sustainability

• Digital & Technological Futures

• Environment, Culture & Heritage

• Global Security

• Health & Wellbeing

To find out more about BU2025 including outcomes and strategic plans, you can visit Bournemouth University online or view the pdf leafet here: BU2025