Braving atrocious weather conditions, students from the German city of Bad Doberan who are visiting Clonmel, hiked up the Comeragh mountains to Lough Mohra. Enduring bitter cold winds and rain they undertook an exercise to examine some of the fish life present in the loughs.
Using miniature traps the students examined the three spined stickleback which were only recently scientifically studied in the lough. Currently Queens University Belfast are looking at stickleback from the Commeragh mountains to see if they are different in shape and genetics to stickleback in other Irish lakes.
As part of an exchange programme being co-ordinated through E.I.L. Cork in cooperation with Tipperary Volunteer Centre, and being led on the ground by Clonmel community activist, Andy Griffin, the students are undertaking a range of activities to expose them to experiences which they may not get at home. These activities include cultural exchanges with Irish children, work experience and experience in environmental assessment.
Despite the driving rain and cold, the students rose to the challenge and managed to capture a few fish which were promptly returned to the lough once identified by Dr. Fran Igoe, local biologist and expert in the fish life in the loughs in the area.
While the students were working their mini traps, Dr. Igoe carried out an underwater assessment of the fish life in the lough taking photographic and film footage, which will be incorporated into a programme on the students experience in Ireland. Prior to the visit to Lough Mohra, he gave a presentation on the importance of the loughs in the Comeragh Mountains and what fish species are present.
He explained that some of the brown trout in the loughs are of genetic interest and therefore of high conservation value. Indeed it is thought that Arctic char might exist in some of the loughs as there is a reference to their presence in the lough during the 1700s. However an extensive survey carried out in 2008 by the Irish Char Conservation Group didn’t record any char, but who knows they may still be hiding out somewhere.
The students are based with local families in Clonmel. During the week the students participated in an Irish German class in the Presentation Secondary School under the supervision of Ms. Audrey Scully, they also attended ‘High School Musical’ staged by Clonmel Students. The Common Thread cafe invited the students to an evenings entertainment hosted by Theresia Guschlbauer, they thoroughly enjoyed a demonstration of Film and theatre make up given by renowned make-up artist ‘Poppy’ a friend of Theresia.