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Marine Scotland test River Findhorn salmon for infection after hundreds found dead


By Garry McCartney

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The salmon's loose scales are clearly visible.
The salmon's loose scales are clearly visible.

HUNDREDS of salmon were found dead at the side of the River Findhorn.

A reader who prefers to remain nameless reported the discovery to the Gazette - Findhorn, Nairn and Lossie Fisheries Trust director Bob Laughton confirmed it.

The reader said: “I heard from a friend who’s a fisherman that there were around 400 dead spring Salmon along almost the entire length of the river, including the Divie tributary. I’ve since spoken to the river bailiff who collected fish to send samples off for testing.”

Mr Laughton admitted “a considerable number” were found over a few weeks last month.

He explained: “The fish showed the effects of fungal infections, likely to be Saprolignia which occurs naturally within the river. Outbreaks have occurred before - 2017 was the last one - and tend to occur during late April and May. Low flows coupled with higher water temperatures seem to be a trigger. This may lead to spring salmon accumulating in the pools. Without suitable water flows to continue their migration, they can get stressed and so infection can spread, particularly if there is any damage to the fish such as scale loss.”

Spring salmon have loose scales so fungus can get underneath more easily than fish entering the river later in the year.

However, it is also possible that the Findhorn salmon have other infections affecting their health and making them more susceptible to the fungal infection.

Catching salmon from the Divie for sampling by the Marine Scotland Science fish inspectors.
Catching salmon from the Divie for sampling by the Marine Scotland Science fish inspectors.

Mr Laughton said: “With considerable help, we managed to get five salmon from the Divie for sampling by the Marine Scotland Science fish inspectors. We await the results.”

Wet weather during the last week of May might have alleviated the situation.

“Heavy rain lifted the river somewhat,” said Mr Laughton. “We’ve had some positive reports of fresh clean fish entering the Findhorn.”

Marine Scotland Fish Inspectors sampling disease salmon from the Divie.
Marine Scotland Fish Inspectors sampling disease salmon from the Divie.


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