Elvers – baby eels – were released into the River Welland at Welland Yacht Club recently by East Mercia Rivers Trust (EMRT). For three weeks, they had been looked after by Spalding school children from Ayscoughfee Hall School, St John the Baptist Church of England Primary School, and the Tulip Academy.
The Eels in the Classroom programme is part of a national effort to save the European Eel (Anguilla anguilla). In recent decades there has been a dramatic reduction in eel numbers, estimated to be over 90%. The reasons for this decline are not fully understood but likely include man-made barriers to migration (such as weirs, sluices and dams) habitat loss, pollution, climate change and illegal trade.
This initiative was funded as part of the wider Spalding Reconnected: Historic Town & Riverside Project, led by South Holland District Council and funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Rebecca Lane, Year 4 teacher at Ayscoughfee Hall School, said “We loved being a part of the project. We found out so many fascinating facts about the eels and as a school, we are blown away by the life cycle of eels and the journey they endure, they are just amazing creatures!”.
Patricia Olivera Antunes, EMRT’s Welland Project Manager, commented “It was very rewarding to see how keen both the students and the teachers were to learn about the eels. This initiative directly contributes to the conservation of an endangered animal that is critical to our river habitats.”
There are more river-focused activities planned as part of the Spalding Reconnected: Historic Town & Riverside Project. The project – which also involves Lincolnshire County Council, Heritage Lincolnshire and Transported Art – will also include community artwork activities and the development of heritage trails.
Katy-Jayne Lintott, Project Manager at Heritage Lincolnshire, said “We are incredibly excited to be a partner for Spalding Reconnected and are looking forward to working with the communities of Spalding to create a really special connection to the town’s heritage and the natural world.”
Councillor Gary Taylor, Deputy Leader of South Holland District Council and portfolio holder for Strategic Housing, Leisure Centre Delivery and Spalding Town Improvement, added: “It is great to see some of the work made possible through the Spalding Reconnected project get underway, helping to support and strengthen the ecosystem of the River Welland. The river and riverside are at the heart of Spalding’s heritage, history and nature, and I am really pleased that we are able to highlight, enhance and protect it for future generations, thanks to National Lottery players and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.”