The Atlantic Salmon is found in the arctic waters in the Northern Hemisphere. They live in the open sea feeding off herring, sand eels and mackerel and enter fresh water for spawning, which usually takes place from September to February.
They are usually divided into two main groups: those that run in the early months between January to May, the spring fish; and those that return to the rivers from the sea in late summer and autumn.
They enter the river fresh from the feeding grounds, ascending with the tide, displaying great perseverance as they travel upstream, swimming up rapids and leaping falls up to about ten feet in height. The salmon journey to the headwaters of the river, where they stay without feeding until the following autumn, when it spawns.
Recent and projected climate change presents considerable challenges to marine and freshwater populations. Rising ocean temperatures will have direct effects on spawning timing and the ability of early post-smolt survival.
A more immediate concern is the historically low salmon stock and a lack of understanding about genetic and ecological adaptability of populations in relation to the likely rate(s) of environmental change.
The salmon on display was caught by the late Dame Barbara Cartland, the famous romantic novelist, who wrote over 700 novels, and who resided in Kildonan. It dates to the mid nineteenth century, before the catch and release system had become the norm.
Today, the fish are returned unharmed, as the loss of just one hen fish and her eggs is no longer acceptable. Barbara was often seen dressed in her favourite pink ensemble, sitting at a table, with her good friend Nancy Sinclair, in the ‘La Mirage’ restaurant, famous for its renowned fish suppers.