BBC Investigates Fishy Business at Ramsbury Primary School

BBC Wiltshire Radio onsite at the River Kennet in Ramsbury to chat to village schoolchildren on their ARK Trout Release



Class 2 and Class 3 from Ramsbury Primary School walked down to the Kennet Triangle today to release their class-raised baby trout and be interviewed by the BBC. A journalist from BBC Wiltshire Radio was on hand to speak to the children, who were particularly excited. Kitted out in multi-coloured waterproof coats and Wellington boots, the children, teachers and parent helpers assembled at the river bank with their cups of baby trout. By studying and caring for trout, eels and even mayflies, the children have learned about lifecycles, food webs, habitats and adaptations, as well as the importance of water in the environment, the River Kennet and its tributaries.

“We’ve had our trout since they were baby fish,” said Josie. “We wanted to name them all but they all looked the same – it was hard to tell who was who. Then then some died – about 21, I think, and we hoovered them out of the tank after poking them first – terrible things would happen if you left a dead fish in the tank. But there are billions left in the tank although only one or two will grow up to be big fish as they’ll get eaten by birds and bigger fish and otters. But not Geoffrey the Otter. He ate rat poison that was in a garden by the river and he’s stuffed now…” . Indeed he is, Geoffrey is now an ARK mascot and a poignant reminder to us all of the human impact on our waterways.

The project was organised by ARK (Action for the River Kennet) as part of their Trout in School Education programme. It began in early in January with the arrival of the hatchlings, which then grew and developed in tanks in the classroom under the watchful eyes of the children, before being released into the river once large enough. Ramsbury were praised for the survival rate of their fish which was more than 50% – quite an achievement!

Trout in the River Kennet are not considered to be endangered so are well suited for the ARK schools programme, although in some cases individual stocks are under various degrees of stress through habitat degradation or overfishing. The river still supports wild brown trout populations but these are supplemented with stocked fish. ARK work to monitor the health of the river and have been instrumental in reducing the rates of water extraction by Thames Water. The Kennet Triangle is located in Ramsbury just off Mill Lane and is the perfect protected spot for a trout release. It is jointly owned by ARK and Ramsbury Parish Council. Schools in the Kennet Catchment from Hungerford upstream are eligible to participate in Trout in School Education, and the project can be tailored for pre-school, primary and secondary students.

The BBC recording will be aired on BBC Radio Wiltshire is likely to air either on Drive Time today or tomorrows breakfast show. A longer version of the interview will air on ‘Wild About Wiltshire’ date tbc.