The Applecross river has been identified as a potentially significant site for learning about some important aspects of salmon biology. The behaviours of salmon and trout as they leave Scottish rivers, and the challenges they face on their seaward migrations, are largely unknown.
Following a pilot study in 2015, Marine Scotland Science, the government body charged with obtaining information about the marine environment, is continuing with the investigation of the behaviour of salmon as they emigrate from the Applecross river. “The river is almost unique on the west coast in that it flows more or less directly into the open sea rather than through a narrow sea loch,” Dr David Morris of Marine Scotland Science explained, “this situation is ideal for starting to look at the directions that salmon smolts take as they enter the ocean. Such information is important for the development of sustainable management of Scotland’s marine environment.”
In spring 2016, scientists will be intercepting salmon smolts near the river mouth on their seaward migration, and fitting them with tiny acoustic transmitters. Specially designed arrays of underwater receivers will be positioned at various locations in the Inner Sound between Applecross and Raasay which can detect the acoustic signals of tagged fish as they swim past, and so help to build up a picture of fish movements. Related studies are also taking place in the very different environment of Loch Linnhe.