Thursday 20 Jul, 2017
The two weeks which I have spent working alongside the Norfolk Rivers Trust can be best described as a wholly captivating and immersive experience, with each day being as intriguing as the first! I have been fortunate enough to have worked at a variety of locations including the River Burn, Bayfield Estate, Morston, Blakeney, Holt Lowes and the River Ingol.
My volunteering kicked off with electrofishing at the River Burn where an electric current was used to attract eels and brown trout so that they could be tagged, with the aim of tracking their location to discover more about the little-known life cycle of the European Eel, especially concerning their migration pattern back to the Sargasso Sea.
At Bayfield I have assisted with numerous school trips surrounding the ‘Eel Project’ which have involved fishing, dipping and a nature trail. These activities were not only engaging but also stressed the importance of educating younger generations and of raising their awareness in order to preserve the critically endangered European Eel population whose decline has resulted through overfishing, habitat degradation, the construction of dams and reductions in water quality.
The ‘Eel Project’ has also involved placing eel traps along the River Glaven, particularly at Blakeney and Morston, at which I have assessed water conductivity, temperature, salinity, oxygen levels and the presence of eels.
Holt Lowes is a precious Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) where drainage has become an issue and therefore we dug a tributary to link the Lowes to the river with the intention of alleviating this issue to improve the quality of the environment to allow the rare foliage to thrive once again.
Along the River Ingol I have worked to take measurements to calculate the river profile of the channel in order to plan a new wetland consisting of three cells to reduce sewage levels and act as a form of natural sewage treatment before being diverted back into the channel.
I am hugely thankful for the time that I have been able to spend working in such a diverse range of environments; each of which have been truly enriching, enlightening and educational. Not only have I gained a range of skills, from fishing to profiling, but have also loved working on fascinating projects with inspirational ecological warriors! Without hesitation I would wholeheartedly encourage those with an interest in ecology to take the invaluable opportunity to experience life at the Norfolk Rivers Trust.