We have been busy lately helping the European Eel fulfill its migratory desires!
The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is a species of Eel, a snake like, catadromous fish. They can reach a length of 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) in exceptional cases, but are normally around 60–80 cm (2.0–2.6 ft), and rarely reach more than 1 m (3 ft 3 in).
There are still elements of the life cycle of the eel which area mystery but the bits we do understand are fascinating.
Unlike many other migrating fish, eels begin their life cycle in the ocean and spend most of their lives in fresh water, returning to the ocean to spawn and then die. In the early 1900s, Danish researcher Johannes Schmidt identified the Sargasso Sea as the most likely spawning grounds for European eels. The larvae (leptocephali) drift towards Europe in a 300-day migration. When approaching the European coast, the larvae metamorphose into a transparent larval stage called “glass eel”, enter estuaries, and start migrating upstream. After entering fresh water, the glass eels metamorphose into elvers, miniature versions of the adult eels. As the eel grows, it becomes known as a “yellow eel” due to the brownish-yellow colour of their sides and belly. After 5–20 years in fresh water, the eels become sexually mature, their eyes grow larger, their flanks become silver, and their bellies white in colour. In this stage, the eels are known as “silver eels”, and they begin their migration back to the Sargasso Sea to spawn.
The European eel is currently classified as ‘Critically Endangered’. Overall numbers have significantly declined over the last 25-30 years and the reasons for this are suggested as being a combination of habitat loss, barriers to migration, parasites, pollution, over-fishing and climate change affecting oceanic currents.
The barrier to migration problem is one area that can be improved and Kingcombe Aquacare Ltd have been working closely with the Environment Agency to improve things for the humble eel. We design and fabricate effective eel pass systems to suit a wide range of conditions and our skilled site teams have been carrying out installations at many locations in the South of the UK.
Feast your eyes on this fantastic new video showcasing some examples of BIOTOP natural swimming pool and pond projects in the UK. If you are considering a natural pool you must watch this as it gives you an honest owners view of each type of pool we build.
You will see there are different styles of pool in the video which demonstrates the versatility of the BIOTOP system and shows you how it can be tailored to suit your location and ‘must have’ requirements.
Kingcombe Aquacare are UK BIOTOP partners so if you are considering a new build, conversion or renovation project we can help. The market leading natural pool filtration has been developed in Austria and refined over the last 30 years. The result is a robust system that is easy to maintain – something crucial for long term success of your natural pool.
There is much to consider when planning your project so we would welcome the chance to talk through your ideas. Our office number is 01460 279 200, please ask for Ben Garner.
If you are based in or around London you could visit the Kings Cross Pond Club, a public swimming pond and art installation we helped to engineer and build using BIOTOP filtration. It is currently the only public natural swimming pool in the UK and it offers a unique opportunity to swim in clean, naturally filtered water in the heart of London.
If you are looking for a holiday venue with something unique to offer then we recommend you consider Netherton Farm near Kingsbridge in Devon – it has a natural swimming pond!
We recently converted the pool there from a traditional chlorine treated system to a naturally filtered BIOTOP swimming pond. The pond is partially heated to take the chill off and is open for use between May and September. Sally and Laura who own and run Netherton Farm wanted to get away from the constant reliance on chemicals to keep the pool clean and opted for a naturally filtered system to let nature help do the work.
The natural pool is full of life and it is possible to see amphibians hiding in the planted regeneration zone while dragonflies dart around over the water. There is always something interesting to see as you would expect with a living biological system. Swimming in a natural swimming pond is a unique experience and perfect for those who want an alternative to swimming in chemically treated water.
Sally and Laura are the most welcoming hosts so if you are looking to get away and fancy swimming with nature you should give Netherton Farm a try.
John recently started a new LinkedIn discussion regarding the use of herbicide against non-native aquatic plant species. Here’s what he wrote.
“Over the last 10 years most approved aquatic herbicides have been removed from the market. Now it would seem that Glyphosate is the next target to come into the sights of the EU legislators. I suspect that all environmentally conscious people would prefer not to be introducing chemicals into the environment unnecessarily. However, the potential loss of Glyphosate, which in the form of Roundup Pro Bio is deemed to be one of the safest products for use in or near water, would present us with real challenges, not the least being the control of non-native species such as Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed, Floating Pennywort to name but a few.
As a responsible company working in the field of water management and maintenance, Kingcombe Aquacare is keen to find alternative procedures if they exist, but for some of these pernicious plants, which are destroying our native habitat, often in SSSIs, spraying with Glyphosate is the only commercially viable means of control.
I would be interested to know where other Chartered Environmentalists stand on this issue, and whether there are alternative non-native invasive weed control strategies that are commercially viable and successful. Indeed, I would be keen to know where the Institute stands on this issue!”
The ramifications of potentially losing the last remaining effective herbicide are huge and will spark many discussions of how best to control infestations of these non-native plants
We are looking for a talented and motivated person to join our team. Kingcombe Aquacare is recognised as the UK’s leading specialist in water management and we have been designing, building and maintaining waterscapes for 30 years. Our portfolio is diverse with projects including the restoration and creation of iconic landscape water features, creation of water play parks, natural swimming pools, river restoration, and business park water feature maintenance. We also operate a thriving consultancy division that focuses on providing technical design assistance for all types of water features.
We are currently engaged in a planned expansion programme and this new vacancy has been created to cope with the increased workload. Many of our projects are design and build so the ideal candidate will have a civil engineering background, an ability to estimate accurately and experience with using AutoCad design software (however training will be offered to the right person if required).
You will be office based at our Crewkerne headquarters and normal working hours will be 0800-1700.
Your day to day work activities are likely to include;
Production of cost estimates (variable and fixed costs), sourcing material prices, assessing risk and producing tender prices under normal forms of contract.
Use of Valesco estimating software, CS Project, MS Excel, Word, Powerpoint, OnePage CRM (training will be given if required).
Assistance with preparation and delivery of company presentations and marketing material.
Designing, specifying, pricing and sourcing materials for fabrications.
Assisting with the collation and preparation of tender and contract documents, including establishing a good working relationship with potential and existing Clients, as directed by the Company. Advising the Directors on contract conditions. Meeting tender deadlines.
Recording progress and other project related activities on our CRM system in real time when appropriate.
Attending handover meetings providing the Operations Manager with resource sheets and information on jobs won.
You will need to be able to;
Manage your own workload to deliver compliant bids on time.
Work individually or as a member of a team in any of the tasks outlined.
Aim for personal excellence at all times.
Be a good listener and interpret information given by internal and external colleagues.
If you are interested in learning more about this role please contact Kelly Eglon email@example.com for a full job description.
An example of success achieved by good design, strong partnership working and experienced installation teams.
We have recently completed another eel pass and fish baffle installation for the Environment Agency, this time in Frampton Cotterell, on the Bristol Frome in Gloucestershire.
Working very closely with the Environment Agency project manager, Gareth Varney, and Fisheries Officer Jody Armitage, we installed one of our jointly designed cassette type eel and elver pass systems on an existing weir, to help improve eel migration. The recycled plastic fish baffles were installed on the concrete weir face to improve the ease of passage for trout and coarse fish. Both systems were designed to minimise the impact on flow measurement accuracy of the weir and on flood warning capability.
Water level was higher than expected so conditions were challenging but not insurmountable. Our site team were able to manage the water effectively by deploying sand bags and flow deflectors to divert it away from the works area. This facilitated the installation of fish baffles and the eel pass, while maintaining constant water flow downstream.
Our work was completed safely, on time and to budget. Gareth Varney, Environment Agency Hydrometry & Telemetry Programme Manager commented;
“We are delighted with the new eel pass installed by the Kingcombe team. They were able to complete the installation under challenging conditions but despite this the end product is perfect. It has not compromised the operation of our existing weir and has hopefully improved migration of fish further up the Frome catchment and should be another positive step in the right direction in the battle to reverse the decline in the European Eel population”
Yesterday was John Colton’s birthday. We’re not going to mention how young he is but you can rest assured he is now officially ‘experienced’!
We celebrated with traditional lunchtime tea and cake. John has a love of fine food so he was over the moon with his cheese board and cheese selection from the office staff. With the celebrations over he’s back in the office today, working hard on a water feature design.
Please note that from now on John will only be undertaking site visits that fall within a short walk of a bus stop! Of course we’re joking and happy to announce that he is still keeping very busy travelling the country advising land owners and designers on a range of water related projects.
Happy Birthday John, with best wishes from all staff here at Kingcombe.
On the whole we have had another mild winter so far. I tend to gauge it by how often I have to mow the lawn and I haven’t stopped yet this winter!
It seems as though the aquatic weed has been reluctant to slow down too and this has created an increase in the maintenance requirements for some of our clients. For those with smaller ponds it is possible to cut weed out and remove it by hand. However, this ceases to become cost effective when it comes to larger ponds and lakes.
Luckily help is at hand for those with larger bodies of water as many choose to use our AquaTractor boat to cut and remove the weed for them. The boat is extremely capable and is primarily used to cut and remove submerged weed, rafts of algae and collect duckweed. Last summer we removed masses of floating debris and weed from various sites.
We have seen a surge in demand over the past few years so we are part way though construction of another boat for use this year.
If you think you will need to use one of our boats please get in contact soon to reserve a space. We already have a lot of bookings so space is starting to become limited.
Scott Rice is the man to talk to. Contact him on our office number 01460 279 200 to see if we can help you. If you have a spare few minutes you might want to watch the video of our AquaTractor in action.
If you own a lake that suffers from algae blooms during the warmer months, now is the time of year to consider introducing barley straw to inhibit growth of new algae. Here is Paul with a load of freshly made ‘sausages’ ready for delivery to one of our customers. We recommend barley straw is introduced in late winter so it is effective in the spring as it starts to decompose.
Each ‘sausage’ should be replaced annually to ensure there is a fresh dose of leachate to inhibit algae growth as the water warms up. If you own a formal water feature or a small pond and you are looking for an algae inhibitor we can supply a concentrated liquid version to do the same task. If you want to know more, Scott Rice is the man to talk to 01460 279 200.