On World Ocean’s Day the Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust took P5, P6 and P7 children from Armoy Primary School on a journey of the River Bush.
The children became water detectives for the day following the path of the River Bush! The children went ‘fishing’ for information and developed their own unique press release to illustrate this exciting river journey as it winds its way from the source in the Antrim Coast & Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) at Slieveanourra to its mouth at Portballintrae in the Causeway Coast AONB.
The children stopped at 4 different locations along the way, meeting representatives from various organisations to talk about water and the importance of the River Bush in our daily life. The children have described their journey in words, photographs, videos and drawings to spread the word about the importance of our rivers and water. The first stop was Altnahinch Dam at Slieveanourra.
‘Seamus Kearney, the plant manager for NI Water took us to the breast of the dam. He told us that the dam had overflowed because of all the rain we have had over these past few weeks. The dam was built in 1964 and finished in 1967, and if the dam broke it would flood the valley. The depth of the dam is 23 metres and brown trout live there. All the water is squeezed out, and the sludge is sent to landfill. The water that is left is treated, and there are always bugs in the water until the water goes through the treatment works.’ Luis McMaster and Amy-leigh McCook
Heavy rain did not deter Devina Park and her colleagues from Northern Ireland Environment Agency demonstrating and discussing ‘good bugs, bad bugs’ with the pupils who braved the June showers to search for aquatic insects in the River Bush at Magherahoney.
‘We met up with 3 people from the NIEA and they showed us the different types of bugs that live in the River Bush. We tested the water by getting a tray and putting it into the water and seeing all the good bugs and bad bugs. If the river is very clean you will find Mayflies, Stoneflies and Cased Caddis. If the river is polluted you will find Leeches, Snails, Worms and Midge Larvae. We saw lots of Stoneflies and one worm which means the river is in good condition.’ Bethany Hickinson, David McAleese and Billy Adams
‘I thought it was a good learning experience about all the bugs that live in the River Bush. It was very interesting and I never knew what bugs lived under the stones in the River Bush before now.’ Steven Huey
‘We enjoyed this part of the trip as we learned a lot about pollution in our rivers.’ Jack Neill
The third stop of the day was the Bushmill’s Salmon Station:
‘The Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust took us to the Salmon Station. We enjoyed this greatly because the tour guide, Martin McAleese, was really helpful and it was great fun! Martin showed us the blue barrels where they keep the parr (which are baby salmon) and how they eat. After that, he told us that they go to the river for a year and then turn into a brown finger print pattern to blend in with the water. Afterwards, they go to the sea where they change to silver for camouflage and then go to Greenland or the Faroe Islands, because the water is colder and the food is better there.’ Rebecca McGowan and Katie Reid
‘After 2 years, the salmon come back to the River Bush, where they were born. They can do this because they feel the earth’s magnetic field. We enjoyed going to the salmon station alot.’ James McMullan, Clarice Taggart and Robert McAleese
The final stop of the day was in Portballintrae where we met with John Bustard from SurfSUP Northern Ireland, a new stand up paddle boarding school at Portballintrae harbour.
‘John showed us parts of the paddle board such as the finn, the paddle, the tail and the nose. John showed us the boat house that belonged to the four Hutchinson’s that lived in it, which is where his school is based. At the harbour he showed us a plant like seaweed that can cure people with eczema. You boil the plant for a couple of hours, put it in the bath and in a couple of weeks your eczema will clear up. ‘James McMullan and Clarice Taggart
‘At the harbour there were fishing boats and nets. John got on the stand up paddle board and he fell off the board for us and we took a photograph for of him doing it. You can take lessons if you are 16 or over. To find out more information go to www.surfni.com. We all had a great day and enjoyed the trip very much.’ Emily McAleese, Jill Hutchinson and Hannah Lefondré
The Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust would like to thank the children of Armoy Primary School who made the River Bush water journey a very special experience, and in particular, a thank you must go to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency for awarding CCGHT with the Water Environment Community Award, which made all of this possible. Thanks must also go to the Bushmill’s Salmon Station, NI Water and SurfSUP NI!