Thank you very much for all you do in organising the Working Bees, Piers – it’s of huge benefit to the woods. And we owe you a Thermos!

I received Piers’ report with its final paragraph about September’s salmon release just before this email, from Jon Hake from the River Lynher Hatchery, landed in my inbox:

spawning redd sign“I met a lady at Stara on Tuesday while fishing for Broodstock for the Hatchery and her dog was swimming in the river. I tried to explain how much damage a dog can do to a spawning redd. (See below for what a spawning redd is.)

But she was having none of it saying there isn’t any sign to say I can’t and I tried to explain that the brash put along the river bank was to prevent this happening. Her reply was I had to stand there on a daily basis and stop people from letting their dogs in the river.

Never once apologised, so I would like to put up some signs if that’s OK. I’ll send you a copy of one I have prepared.

Regards Jon”

We clearly need to educate the public about the importance of not disturbing those areas of the river where the salmon breed. IF YOU SEE NOTICES LIKE THIS, PLEASE RESPECT THEM – YOU’LL BE DOING YOUR BIT TO HELP STOP THE DECLINE IN NUMBERS.

I’ve done some research, which was fascinating, and here is a much-abbreviated outline of the salmon-spawning process:

(adapted from the “Adopt-A-Stream Foundation Field Guide to the Pacific Salmon.)

The redd is the general location chosen by a female salmon for laying eggs. Within that site she may dig several nests and deposit eggs in them over a period of several days. She begins by ‘nosing’, probing the gravel, while cruising slowly over the river bottom in the redd area. Having identified a suitable site , she turns on her side and starts to flex her body violently, slapping the gravel with her tail. After a series of digging motions she swims to repeat the process. Sometimes her movements include tight circling or swimming over the nest in figure eights. In time this produces a cone-shaped hollow from just a few to as much as 38cm in depth.

This activity attracts competing males. The successful one wards off the competition and joins the female in the nest in a series of movements that lead to egg and sperm release. The movements build up until the female crouches and forces herself more deeply into the nest cavity, then as both vibrate their tails rapidly the eggs & sperm are released.