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River Dee Tracking

A radio tracking project is being run by the River Dee Trust to follow the migration of salmon up the River Dee following their epic sea journey for a number of years. These salmon are returning upstream to reach spawning grounds where they were born some 4-6 years previously, and they will spawn there themselves this Autumn and Winter. Each radio transmitter tag (which is inserted into the belly of the salmon orally) sends out a unique radio signal and allows us to follow the salmon from the river bank by river bank detection stations and by mobile detector units.

 The aim of this project is to determine whether there is any impact on the salmon if it is captured by an angler late in the year. This project will help guide the angling season on the Dee so we can ensure that salmon caught and released back into the river can continue to migrate to reach spawning grounds and reproduce successfully.

In September and October 2010, 60 salmon that are caught by anglers on the River Dee between Banchory and Aboyne will be tagged. These salmon will have a radio tag inserted, a plastic floy tag attached behind their dorsal fin (with its own unique number), a small clip of tail fin tissue taken (to analyse its DNA), a sample of scales taken (to determine the fish’s age by microscopic analysis), its length measured and a photograph taken. All this is done once the fish is anaesthetised so that the fish is not harmed. The fish is then released carefully back into the river to continue on its final journey to produce the next generation of salmon.

The tagged fish are mapped on this website and their positions may be updated several times per week, so that anyone can look in to follow the progression of these fish upstream. Bearing in mind that there can be over 50,000 salmon in the river during the autumn, finding these individual fish takes quite a bit of work. Some fish may start spawning toward the end of October with the majority spawning in late November. Most of the fish do not survive the spawning process, but a small minority do make it back to sea in the spring to feed again, and then return to the River to produce another generation of River Dee Salmon.

We are really delighted to be able to share this exciting project with local schools and local community. This year, Finzean, Kincardine and Aboyne primary schools will be following these fish, which will be named after some of the pupils, and discovering whose salmon has the greatest migration journey up-river. We will also publish updates through the local press so that interested people can follow the progress of this important research. At the end of the programme we will visit the schools to present gifts and prizes to the school children. We will also produce a scientific report which will be a valuable tool for the future management of the River Dee salmon stocks and it helps us understand more about this truly magnificent wild animal.


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