Tarn News Masthead
Last Updated: 16 September 2013
Spare a thought for the male sticklebacks
(2 July 2013)

Attention was drawn to the following information about the hardship imposed on the male stickleback as a consequence of our wet Spring by the July bulletin of the Freshwater Biological Association, 'Freshwater Matters'.

The bulletin reports:  'The heavy rain this spring may have made life a little harder for male three-spined sticklebacks. The male of the species constructs a nest of algae, sand and debris glued together with a protein called “spiggin” that they produce in their kidneys. However, the increased flow rates in rivers mean that the fish has had to construct stronger nests, requiring more energy, which in turn may impact the number of young they can produce.'

You can learn more about this finding by Leicester biologists by reading the article in the 14 June edition of Science Daily by clicking here.

It is no longer known to the writer whether stickleback are still as common in Gleaton Beck as was the case many years ago when children of the local villages used to catch this colourful small fish with nets on the end of a cane and keep them, together with weed taken from the beck, at home in an improvised aquarium.  On reflection, there can be little doubt that the stickleback, with considerable justification, would undoubtedly have preferred their chances of survival by remaining in the beck.  
Furness Diving Club commence a diving programme to remove rubbish disposed of to the tarn over many years 
(24 February 2013)

Furness Diving Club members poses for the local press

On 24 February 2013, following permission from Urswick Parish Council, members of Furness Diving Club congregated at Urswick Tarn to search the bottom for items of rubbish which had entered the tarn over its long history.  The dive on this first phase of the clean-up programme concentrated on the south east corner of the 5.63 hectare tarn.  The above photograph shows the twelve club members who participated in the dive kitted out with their dry-suits and compressed air breathing apparatus.  Underneath their outer dry-suits the cold water temperatures necessitated the wearing of specialist thermal suits which those observing from the side of the tarn on a very cold day were quite envious of.  Other members of the club carried out supporting roles which included checking and recording procedures associated with safe diving practice. 

Furness Diving Club commence their dive
The divers operated in pairs, each pair having an assigned area of the tarn to search.  Visibility in the tarn was good, no doubt as a consequence of the cold water following the winter months. During the warm seasons a considerable growth of water weed will be found around the tarn's margin and in open water algal growth will diminish visibility.

Furness Diving Club lift and metal drum

Members of the club had received guidance on the high scientific significance of this rare marl tarn and the potential value of sediments in the vicinity of springs which emerge at its bottom.  To this end great care was taken not to drag items of rubbish found on the bottom.  In order to achieve this divers attached ropes to items of rubbish which they found.  Lifting bags at the other end of the ropes were then filled with air so that the crew on the club's dinghy could lift the items vertically from the bottom sediments.  If items were found in the vicinity of any spring they were left undisturbed at the bottom.  In the above photograph, the club's dinghy can be seen fitted with a small outboard motor but the club was fully aware that the use of powered craft on this tarn is not permitted and this was respected throughout the dive. 

 Furness Diving Club with items retrieved from the tarn
The event was successful both in terms of items retrieved and the quality of the diving experience for club members.  The search zone on this occasion yielded only a small number of items all of which, with the exception of a fisherman's umbrella, appeared to have been decaying on the bottom for a long period of time.  Other search zones which are closer to the residential and former farmstead section of the adjoining village may be found to be more littered with discarded items.

It is appreciated that a number of divers have expressed their interest in helping with the research programmes which are based on the tarn, both ongoing and currently being planned for the future.  The quest for funding support for these programmes is challenging in the current economic environment, so it is particularly appreciated to have support from accomplished local divers for relevant aspects of this work.

References to current research work on the tarn may be found within the 'News Archive' page.
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