Secrets of migrating salmon unlocked by 'scale model'
Friday 24 June 2011
The life history of a salmon is contained in its scales, scientists have discovered, just as the age of trees is betrayed by their rings.
The finding is allowing researchers to unravel the centuries-old mystery of where Atlantic salmon disappear to when they leave the rivers they were born in and swim out to sea. By analysing chemical signatures trapped in the scales of fish caught in rivers, scientists can work out which part of the sea each one has been feeding in as it matures, before heading back inland to spawn. Such analysis could help conservationists protect dwindling stocks.
The research, funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, showed that Salmon from Dorset fed as adults mainly off Iceland and the Faroe Islands, while those from the Tyne headed off to Norway.
Differences were also found between age groups, with older and younger fish preferring different feeding grounds. Researchers have been able to pinpoint these areas because as the fish mature their scales absorb carbon isotopes whose proportions vary according to which part of the sea the fish are feeding in.
Dr Kirsteen MacKenzie, of the University of Southampton's National Oceanography Centre and lead author of the research, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports, said: "As every salmon contains a natural chemical tag, we can now see where fish from individual rivers go to feed in the Atlantic." She said the technique should be equally valid for determining where other fish and marine animals, such as turtles and seabirds, have been feeding.
Since the 1950s about four million salmon have been tagged in an attempt to trace them but only 3,000 tags have ever been recovered.
auctionThe first 23 lots have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
musicPolice chief rejects rappers' claims that his work is as dangerous as law enforcement or military service
tvSpoiler alert: Find out the result of a heated final show
Beatles rush out 'bootleg' album to defy EU copyright law
Geoffrey Macnab reviews The Desolation of Smaug - the meat in Peter Jackson's Hobbit sandwich
Harvey Weinstein reveals his secret weapon on-set
Now that an oil trader's drinking has got him sacked, will we all have to make do with an afternoon latte?
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Idris Elba get nods for Best Actor, which no black Brit has ever won
peopleWhat advice would David Cameron give to his younger self?
Auction house to give away $1m masterpiece in charity raffle - and tickets are only $100 each
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ sign language interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 Mystery of Epping Forest 'big cat' is solved
- 3 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 4 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 5 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- < Previous
- Next >
£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior C# ASP.NET Deve...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: QA Automation Tester FX Trading Platform(Ruby, ...
£25000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: VB.NET SQL Developer/...
£45000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: Senior Automation QA ...