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The Wick Smolt Tracking Project

1st April 2016

Photograph of The Wick Smolt Tracking Project

Dr Diego Del Villar of the Environmental Research Institute is delighted to invite you to an open talk entitled "The Wick Smolt Tracking Project".

The talk will be on Thursday the 7th of April 2016 at 19:30 in the Pulteneytown People's Project, Wick, KW1 5BA.

Salmon smolts migrate from rivers to the open sea in order to access the rich feeding grounds in the North Atlantic. Almost nothing is known about the routes that smolts take in coastal waters when they leave their rivers. In the past, this lack of knowledge was not particularly important but with the arrival of the marine renewables industry in the Pentland and Moray Firths it has become necessary to find out how smolts leaving northern rivers use these coastal waters.

One of the main limitations in the study of salmon at sea has been the difficulties of gathering information using traditional methods. The recent development of acoustic fish-tags has made it possible to study the behaviour of smolts in the sea. The tags emit pulses of sound and automatic listening stations moored on the sea-bed are used to monitor tagged fish as they pass by.

In a project starting in mid-April, ERI will monitor the initial movements of salmon smolts as they leave Wick River and head out to sea. The fish will be tagged before they leave the river. A network of acoustic listening stations will be laid out in Wick Bay. When the fish migrate, the acoustic tags will trigger the automatic listening stations as the smolts pass by. The listening stations will log the individual tag number to provide a timed record of the position of individual smolts. These records will be combined to determine the routes taken by smolts as they move from the river to the sea on the first, critical stage of their northward journey.

Diego del Villar will explain what is involved in the Wick Smolt Tracking Project, demonstrate the equipment and describe what it is hoped to achieve.

Doors open at 19:30 - the talk is free and open to the public.

This open talk is supported by SSE.

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