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Since summer 2021 Leanne Munro has been working with Kyle Fisheries as our assistant Scientist. Leanne has now begun a secondment with the Scottish Fisheries Coordination Centre (SFCC), and has written a blog about her time with us.

 

Hello! Better late than never to introduce myself, anyway I’m Leanne Munro, a seasonal (or so it was supposed to be!) assistant at the Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust. You may have met me already, tagging along with Sean or Keith, or know me locally as I literally live a minutes’ walk from the office (yet I still have my late moments). I grew up in this area for the first 18 years of my life before going off to Oban to do a degree in Marine Science with Oceanography and Robotics at the University of the Highlands and Islands – SAMS. Now I am back home and have spent the last 7 months working at the Trust and this is just a wee insight as to all I got up to during this period.

An eventful start it was too. July saw the narrow miss of Covid, TWICE, and a rather foolish decision on my behalf (slippy rocks and bare feet do not go hand in hand, as I learnt the hard way) which saw myself as “hop along” for the remainder of the busy season ahead. NEPS was in full swing sending us to 45 electrofishing sites in the depths of the catchment, some where no one in their right mind would go to, nonetheless we had a job to do and that was to complete them before September.

July came and went in a flash and August in with full force. A couple of new projects were on the go, the National Adult Salmon Sampling Project, which made a change to the wee tiddlers we were getting electrofishing, and a pilot eDNA project for the Trust. It was the dreaded ‘odd’ year which saw the return of pink salmon nationwide. A school was spotted on the Oykel and an ambitious netting operation took place to get them out. Me being me, I was in the middle of it all and we ended up catching the most important fish, the female, full of eggs but I can certainly say now that I fully appreciate the old nets men and the skills they had to do this daily!

Before long, we were into autumn which was welcomed as it meant the field season was coming to an end. The last NEPS sites were done. But that didn’t mean it was time to kick the feet up. There was still radio tracking to be done on the Carron, mapping data and coding and the fun task of sorting out the archived files. This period saw my proudest achievement to date, I managed to code a ShinyApp which converts SFCC’s electrofishing data file into a format which can be inputted directly to Marine Scotland’s ShinyApp that calculates the densities of the sites. Hopefully one day it can be implemented for the whole industry to use!

By this point in the year, the Trust has gone tree mad. The big push is on to try and save what we can of our rivers from overheating and to protect the future Atlantic salmon population and other vulnerable riverine species. The glamourous side of being a biologist assistant has come to light as it is time to collect head samples… and yes, I do mean the cutting off the rather ripe kelt heads. To finish off my spell here in style, Sean and myself nearly had a search and rescue party deployed (it was dark by the time we were back in signal range) while out at the temperature loggers on the Upper Oykel where a much-needed bath was required afterwards.

It has been a diverse experience at the Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust and I cannot thank the team enough for giving me the opportunity to develop such a wide range of skills for the future and for putting up with me during this time!