We completed the much delayed eDNA sampling at Loch Doon today but had the good fortune to have almost wind free conditions. Having virtually no wind was great from a safety perspective but in true Ayrshire fashion, there was a bit of wet weather to contend with but Carolyn and Struan were in the boat and well equipped for that. Stuart remained ashore with the safety boat as back up in case of emergency. These are the tight constraints we are required to work under for some clients to ensure risks are minimised. In this case, Drax were the client and their H&S rules apply and we of course are always seeking to keep everyone safe at all time. With a ship to shore communication network established, the two crew set off into the distance to collect samples
Environmental DNA is the microscopic particles released from organisms that live in any environment. In this case, we collected 20 water samples from around the loch at predetermined points and these will be sent to the lab to analyse. They will be looking for traces of DNA left by any aquatic fish species that may or may not be present in the loch. Through this process, we should be provided with a clear picture of the different fish that inhabit the loch and those that may ave been introduced illegally or in ignorance. This was the main purpose for this survey as required by SEPA.
One of the problems with introductions is that once released, they are there to stay. There’s no way once established in open waters, that they can be removed. Obviously it is in everyone’s interest to have native species in our freshwater and native species alone. Upsetting ecosystems by introducing new or non native species can have very detrimental impacts on the native species that should be there. In Loch Doon, perch were introduced around 1970 by irresponsible anglers releasing left over live bait. Perch have since become prolific in the loch to the detriment of the trout population.
It will be very interesting to hear which species the lab finds when results come through. This is the second eDNA sampling that has been conducted in the loch since 2017. Should any new introductions be found, this may lead to Loch Doon and possibly even the Doon catchment being downgraded in status by SEPA and that wouldn’t be good. We encourage everyone to act responsibly at all times and if you ever do find unexpected species anywhere, take photos and let us know but don’t move or remove anything from where you’ve found it as this too can cause species to spread.