Possibly for the first time, the life-long struggle of the Atlantic salmon has been documented on film from the North East of Scotland.
Concluding a 7-year, self-funded project, supported by the Boards and Trusts of the rivers of the North East of Scotland, Aberdeenshire-based filmmaker Bernard Martin launched To The Journey’s End at Macduff Marine Aquarium on Thursday 13th April 2017. Intended as an educational resource, it is hoped that schools and colleges across the North East will use the film as a valuable learning tool to inspire local students to think about the conservation of the species.
To The Journey’s End documents the desperate voyage of the Atlantic salmon from ocean to river and back again, driven by the desire to reproduce. The film opens on the rugged North East coastline. It's spring and tens of thousands of seabirds have come ashore to breed. Out at sea, another great migration is also taking place - Atlantic salmon are travelling the long distance back home to breed in their native rivers in the North East of Scotland.
To The Journey’s End follows this dangerous journey; along the way, Atlantic salmon are attacked at the coast by dolphins and seals as we follow them through the estuary into the main stem of the river where they face yet another predator – humans.
Locally-filmed, purpose-shot footage follows them as they travel through the seasons until they finally make it to the spawning grounds where they themselves hatched many years earlier – they finally reach the end of their exhausting 3,000-mile journey. Having not fed or drank since they entered the river from the sea almost a year previous, for most, this is the end of their lives. After spawning, viewers witness the hatching of eggs the following spring and watch the development of baby salmon until they return to the sea as smolts years later.
This film, featuring rarely-seen footage from North East Scotland, allows viewers to follow the fascinating life-cycle of the Atlantic salmon, fraught with danger. What’s more, the viewer will come to appreciate how endangered Atlantic salmon really are, and the challenges they face throughout their struggle for survival in the modern world.
By painting a poignant picture of the arduous journey of the Atlantic salmon, this film, perhaps most importantly, will inspire determination to help save this magnificent species; a native and natural symbol of Scotland.
On the upcoming launch of his film, Bernard said: “Year after year we were disappointed not to film the spawning sequence - heavy rains, lack of fish, being in the wrong place at the right time and equipment failing at the critical moment, all meant another year’s filming. Without the spawning sequence there was no film at all. What was really uplifting was that the people who work on and look after our rivers never gave up on me. The quality of the rivers of the North East is down to their hard work and management. Macduff Marine Aquarium is a great venue for the premier screening of my film, which will be used for the aquarium’s public and school education programmes”