“Tim Whitesel, a fisheries biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington state and his wife, Mary Lou O’ Keefe, also a fisheries scientist, met with IFI staff In Limerick on July 4th to discuss areas of shared interest and to visit the barrier passage facilities for sea lamprey at Annacotty.
The US visitors had read on-line of the ‘lamprey tiles’ at Annacotty and were keen to learn more and take a look. Their interest links to their work with Pacific lamprey, another migratory lamprey species, and its problems in upstream navigation in the very large Columbia River basin. The visit was facilitated by Ms. Amanda Mooney, RBD Director at IFI Limerick. Tim gave a presentation on his team’s work with Pacific lamprey while Jane Gilleran of IFI Limerick took him through the background, logistics and performance of the lamprey tiles at Annacotty weir. There was a general discussion on the issues relating to the maintenance of the current fabric used for sea lamprey passage. Dr.James King of IFI Research section provided a general background to IFI’s national interest in lamprey studies and IFI’s role in conservation assessment of lamprey while Dr. Sean Rooney, also IFI Research, summarised the radio tracking work on sea lamprey undertaken by him with the Mulkear LIFe team as part of the Mulkear LIFE project work on barriers and passage easement for sea lamprey. Tim identified an opportunity to undertake some “post-project” work by doing a further round of radio tracking In a future year when passage at Annacotty is facilitated via tiles and where passage has been permanently eased at Ballyclogh weir.
The meeting was also joined by Dr. Fiona Bracken who is undertaking post-doctoral research in UCD on the use of environmental or eDNA to determine presence and abundance of sea lamprey. She is a former IFI staff member and her eDNA work is building on a trial study on the subject undertaken at Annacotty during the lifetime of Mulkear LIFE. Fiona’s study sites for her sea lamprey eDNA are based on the Mulkear and on the Munster Blackwater. This work is another example of ‘project legacy’.
Following tea and chat the visitors were taken through the pro’s and con’s of the current lamprey tiles – and issues in regard to their installation and maintenance – by Noel Sheehan of IF Limerick, who has been involved in the installation and maintenance work since the first tiles were installed.
The team then travelled to Annacotty for a closer look at the tiles and their impact on the flow of water, in conditions of relatively low flow. The water was a little discoloured but visibility was sufficient to see several recently-constructed sea lamprey redds or nesting sites. “