Arctic Charr population rediscovered in Loch a' Bhaid-luachraich (Goose Loch)
As part of the 4th Wester Ross Fisheries Trust Arctic Charr Discovery week, a population of Arctic Charr has been rediscovered in Loch a’ Bhaid-luachraich, locally known as the Goose Loch, near Aultbea. Under special licence from the Scottish Government and with permission from Tournaig Estate, nets were set by a team of fisheries scientists from Glasgow University led by Dr Jennifer Dodd and Alex Lyle to find out whether Arctic Charr were still present within the loch.
The only previous documented records of charr in the loch were pre 1940. Following an unsuccessful netting attempt in 2006, there was some doubt as to whether a charr population remained within the loch. The sample taken this week includes both adult charr and a single charr fry (young of the year). The mature fish are almost all of less than 20cm in length. Mature males are colourful; very dark (almost black) on top and orange below, with red-orange fins.
Charr are seldom seen or caught by anglers as they live in deep water for much of the year, occupying a different niche from Brown Trout. The charr populations in many lochs are thought to be descended from ancestors which colonised freshwater systems from the sea at the end of the last ice age when water temperatures were much cooler. All charr populations in Scotland are now landlocked and do not migrate to the sea in the same way as sea trout and salmon. Wester Ross retains many healthy charr populations and is one of the most important areas for charr conservation within the United Kingdom.