CACHE researcher, Nadege Allan reflects on her time in Scotland during the summer of 2015:
“Upon arrival to Scotland, the first thing that caught my attention was not the cars driving on the left side of the road, but how incredibly friendly everyone was. In a country where the sun shines only 25% of the time, I did not expect this in the slightest. Even our bus driver who was scheduled seemingly at the last minute due to the train to Oban being cancelled, apologised for the inconvenience and reassured us that he would try to get us to our destination as quickly as possible. After an enjoyable ride through the Scottish countryside with my travel companion and fellow CACHE partner-in-crime, Teja, we made it to Oban at sunset.
Oban reminded me of the small harbour towns of Nova Scotia, on the east coast of Canada, where I spent some time, and immediately felt a pleasant sense of serenity wash over me.
When we arrived to our accommodation near the SAMS institute, we were greeted by the other CACHE ressearchers who kindly waited for us to arrive and after we caught up, we all went to bed, hoping to get a good night’s sleep for the busy day of lectures ahead.
Perhaps it was the excitement, but I could not sleep soundly that night and decided to go for an early morning stroll and explore the surrounding area. When the day of lectures finally began, they were very informative and I realised how little I knew about how the aquaculture industry functions on a local and national scale. But, all that has changed now. We even did an exercise where we had to choose where we would locate either a mussel, oyster, or scallop farm on a map and explain why.
We also learned all about the different types of toxic micro-algae (e.g. diatoms and dinoflagellates) and how to identify them under the microscope.
Did you know even non-toxic micro-algae can be harmful to fish when they bloom in large numbers? Certain dinoflagellates, especially the spiny ones, such as those found in the genus Ceratium get stuck in fish gills and can cause breathing problems that can lead to death.
Here is a toxic species named Dinophysis norvergica (encircled), which causes diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP). Okadaic acid is the poison responsible for the intestinal cells to become very permeable to water, leading to severe diarrhea.
After so much sitting indoors, a few of us decided to walk into town for dinner and enjoy the lush hills and the sun-rayed lochs.
Apparently, the yachters make complaints when they see the blue buoys of the mussel farms, making it difficult for farmers to place their farms in certain areas. However I find the yachts much more visually polluting than the buoys to be honest.
After sufficiently exploring the coast line and rock pools, we were famished and sat down in Oban Fish and Chip Shop and Restaurant. We practically ordered and shared the whole menu. Thanks to Alex and Trystan’s strong recommendations, I learned that I actually do like oysters afterall!”