Completion of the Saving the Sparling Project - phase 1


9th May 2019
by Courtney Rowland

The two-year project aimed at increasing awareness about sparling has come to an end. The project was designed to be delivered by two interns, the second of which Courtney Rowland reflects on her time on the project.

P5-7 of Twynholm Primary enjoyed their Sparling school session, filled with games and activites!
P5-7 of Twynholm Primary enjoyed their Sparling school session, filled with games and activites!

The two-year project aimed at increasing awareness about sparling has come to an end. The project was designed to be delivered by two interns, the second of which Courtney Rowland reflects on her time on the project.

Over the past 5 months I have been working hard to engage and educate locals, hoping to keep the heritage of sparling alive through events and school visits. The success of this project can be shown simply by how much attention sparling have gained, on a local and national scale! This includes articles in local newspapers, a national audience on more than one occasion, the support from the local community and many local schools wanting to be involved.  

In February of this year, I began to collect river temperature data from the River Cree to be able to predict to predict the arrival of the sparling. As you may know they arrived on the 22nd of February this year, this relatively early arrival date could be due to ideal high tides and the warm weather we all experienced in February (at one point the river was over 8°C). The arrival of the sparling was timed perfectly for the schools, as over 150 pupils actually had the opportunity to meet some live sparling!

I have found the ‘Sparling Goes to School’ Project one of the most rewarding aspects of this role, enjoying the opportunity to teach a new generation about a species so important to the local heritage and culture. Many pupils were overjoyed to know that they were possibly the first of their family to see or smell a sparling, a fact they liked to share much like confirming “THEY REALLY DO SMELL OF CUCUMBER!” as most pupils got to meet some very special visitors back in February. I have visited 9 local primary schools including; Belmont Primary School P2-3, Dalbeattie Primary P5 and the eco class, Gatehouse P5, Kirkcowan Primary eco committee, Minnigaff Primary P2-3, Palnackie Primary P1-7, St Ninians R C Primary P1-7 and Twynholm Primary P1-7. Below you can find some photographs of the pupils enjoying learning about sparling, playing games and meeting real sparling!

Not only have I been teaching children in the classrooms of Galloway, but also anglers on the river banks. In my role I have been able to teach local volunteers’ new skills in identifying sparling, good sparling habitat, indicators of their arrival such as eggs and the abundance known predators. All in the hope that these people will speak up for sparling and help us protect this fragile population and the vital spawning habitat which they visit in the River Cree.

On the 1st of May we hosted our final Saving the Sparling Project event at the Newton Stewart Museum, a brilliant end to an exciting project. There were 2 evening showings of the new Sparling Film, an informative short film which highlights the importance of the sparling, their inextricable link to the Cree and the conservation efforts of the GFT. With the kind help of the museum volunteers the guests also had the opportunity to view the new sparling exhibit and our very special sparling model which is on display for the remainder of the year.

It has been an exciting couple of months and in the future the GFT hopes to be able to continue to build on the efforts of the past two years, keeping sparling as an important element of local culture and introduce a new generation of conservationists to the ongoing efforts to save the sparling!

This project has been funded by the European Maritime Fisheries Fund, The Scottish Government and the Holywood Trust.

If you would like to know more please visit our Sparling Exhibit is on display at the Newton Stewart Museum alongside our new sparling model until the beginning of October. Shortly we will be releasing the Sparling Film online, so keep an eye on our social media and website for updates!

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