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Spotlight: Sean Robertson, Science & Mitigation Officer at Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

Before I got a career in science I was gearing up for a career in film and TV!

Tell us about your career journey so far

As I was finishing university I had a summer placement with a similar organization to the one I now work for. After keeping my eye out for environmental jobs using my degree (and applying to a lot!) I was successful in getting my current job back up in the North of Scotland.

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

In school I loved music! I’m quite creative so that really helped to provide an outlet for that, and I just really enjoyed it.

What subjects/qualifications are useful in your role?

My role involves multiple aspects, the technical parts like report writing, surveying, and analysis of data. For these aspects STEM subjects are really useful, Biology, Chemistry Maths, and English for report writing. However other subjects can expand your ways of thinking which can be useful in certain situations.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

My favourite thing about my job is that I get to see some very remote parts of Scotland that few people get to see! Also that I get hands on with aquatic life that most people walking by a burn wouldn’t even know was there!

What is a normal day in your role like?

“Normal” very much depends on the time of the year. In April and May we help juvenile salmon on their migration to sea by trapping them, tagging them, and transporting them beneath a dam which they have difficulty getting past. The tags let us know when they come back as adult fish in a year or two. In summer months we conduct electrofishing surveys to look at abundance and distribution of juvenile fish. Sometimes if building work is going on by a river we can get called out to conduct a “fish rescue” to move fish out of an affected area of a burn to a safe area. We have all sorts of monitoring projects and habitat improvement works – but every day is different!

Suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?

Pond dipping is a great activity that can be done at home! Certain species of invertebrates are “indicator” species which can give information about water quality. Some species are incredibly hardy and can survive in polluted waters, however others are really sensitive and their absence can indicate a problem. In rivers this can be done by “kick sampling”. Its good to see what wildlife is out there!


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