Smolt Tracking Study is underway!
In early March, the Tweed Foundation staff were busy tagging salmon pre-smolts in the Gala Water as part of their Smolt Tracking Study.
The salmon smolt is the final product of the river and any losses at this stage of their life cycle cannot be replaced. As salmon survival out at sea is thought to be in decline, it is important to ensure as many smolts make it out to sea as possible to help protect the Tweed's adult salmon stocks for future years. To monitor the survival rate of salmon smolts in the River Tweed, the Tweed Foundation started their four year Smolt Tracking Study in 2019.
Each year, salmon smolts leaving the Gala Water are tagged with acoustic tags, allowing the Tweed Foundation to track the progress of each individual smolt as they make their way down the Tweed. In both 2019 and 2020, the study had two main aims: to determine the survival of smolts in the River Tweed, and to highlight where in the river most smolt losses occur. However, another aim has been added to the study in 2021 - to determine the effects that carrying a tag has on smolt survival (the tag burden). By comparing the effects of three different sizes of tag, the Tweed Foundation are hoping to shed some light on the issue of tag burden for smolt tracking studies carried out in future years.