Dolly the salmon dies at grand old age of 15

By Paul Kelbie,Scotland Correspondent
Saturday 11 January 2003 01:00

If fish had funerals, then the list of mourners for Dolly, possibly the world's oldest salmon, would be enough to fill Westminster Abbey 10 times over.

While an heir and a spare is usually enough to safeguard the family line, Dolly's 90,000 offspring have ensured that the Tay estuary and her own gene pool have been left well and truly stocked.

But at the grand old age of 15, Dolly, a one-metre-long Atlantic salmon weighing about 15lb (7kg), has died of a liver tumour after spawning every year for more than a decade. Most hen fish can expect to live between three and five years and spawn just once or twice.

She was collected from the river Tilt in 1992 while still only a four-year-old kelt – a spawned salmon – and kept at the Fisheries Research Service at Almondbank, Perthshire.

Dolly was the first river salmon in the UK to be kept alive in captivity. Her contribution helped to revolutionise the salmon fishing industry.

"Dolly was unique," said a spokesman for the Fisheries Research Service. "We have never heard of another Atlantic salmon as old as her anywhere. We estimated she produced more than 90,000 offspring compared to about 10,000 that the average salmon produces."

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