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waves - dee_catchment_intro

Ecology of the River Dee

The Dee is one of North East Scotland’s major rivers which flows uninterrupted for some 130km from its upland reaches in the high Cairngorms to the North Sea. It is a dynamic river which supports a wide range of habitats and species. It is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for its internationally important populations of Atlantic Salmon, freshwater pearl mussel and otter.

The river supports a population of freshwater pearl mussel, which is distributed over approximately 100km of the river. Juveniles make up approximately 30% of the recorded population which is amongst the highest proportions recorded in Scotland. This indicates that the population is recruiting strongly and is one of the most important in the UK.

The River Dee supports a high-quality Atlantic salmon population. The high proportion of the river accessible to salmon has resulted in it supporting the full range of life-history types found in Scotland, with sub-populations of spring, summer salmon and grilse all being present. In recent years it has contributed about 4 or 5% of all salmon caught in Scotland.

Otters are found throughout the Dee catchment, from its mouth at Aberdeen to many of the high-altitude lochs. The river system contains extensive areas of suitable habitat for otter feeding, resting and breeding, including watercourses with a high fish biomass and islands and marshy areas for resting. This is a strong, high quality population, representative of north-east Scotland.

You can find out more about Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) in the UK here.

The catchment of the River Dee is a designated Special Area of Conservation for its internationally important populations of freshwater pearl mussel, otter and Atlantic salmon.
Freshwater pearl mussels Otter Atlantic salmon