More news...

Sep 18, 2017
Category: General
Posted by: Kathryn

A public River Chess forum will take place in support of the World Wildlife Fund's 'Nature Needs You' campaign.

Jul 12, 2017
Category: Drought
Posted by: Kathryn

With groundwater levels now exceptionally low, the river in Chesham is dry as far as Lord's Mill, Waterside.

Jul 12, 2017
Category: Pollution
Posted by: Kathryn

We welcome the news that Thames Water will shortly be making improvements to the Chesham works.

Apr 1, 2017
Category: Pollution
Posted by: Kathryn

The River Chess has suffered many issues resulting from the Chesham Sewage Treatment Works, going as far back as 1889. These problems continue today.

Latest News

Solving Our Eel Mystery

May 29, 2013

Category: General
Posted by: Kathryn

An eel found in the Chess

Above: An eel found in, and returned to, the Chess

Not many people know that we have eels living in the River Chess; even those who fish the Chess may be surprised to learn of their presence. This is because eels are generally pretty mysterious fish that tuck themselves away in dark pools, waiting for something tasty to come along. But the RCA has started working with the Zoological Society of London to help shed some light on the eels of the Thames catchment.

Five RCA supporters have been trained by the ZSL as eel monitors. An eel trap positioned on the Chess is checked twice a week for elvers (baby eels). The number of any elvers found is counted and each elver is then measured before being released back into the river. The data is uploaded to the ZSL web site, along with data from other rivers that form part of the Thames catchment.

Installing the eel trapThe trap is checked from April-October and this is the first year that the River Chess has been included in the ZSL project, which has been running since 2005. The aim of the project is to monitor the migration of young eels up the Thames and its tributaries, to gain a picture of where eels are moving to and what barriers exist to their migration. The European eel is critically endangered and the project hopes to identify some of the problems the species is facing.

Above: Joe Pecorelli from ZSL and Scott Horton from the RCA installing the eel trap

Since recording began in 2005, elver numbers have generally been declining, although 2013 has been an unusually good year for eel numbers so far. However, no elvers have yet been found in the Chess trap, but a negative result is just as important as finding eels. Adult eels are regularly found in the Chess, but we don't know whether they are the result of stocking in previous years, or whether the population is able to recruit naturally. If we continue to find no elvers in our trap, we need to look at what barriers exist to eel movement (such as weirs) and what we can do about it.

We look forward to bringing you more news as the eel migration season progresses.