Thursday, March 7, 2013

Summer-time Ichthyology on Cyprus

Spring 2013

Well in winter you re-collect yourself; you think about summer. As Ichthyologists we work mostly during the summer, collecting. I'm posting some of last summer's photos from work we did in Cyprus- summertime memories. I hope these fuel our designs and aspirations for this year. The work in Cyprus was pioneering - exploratory, really enjoyable. One of my personal highlights was a fortnight spent with my good friend Vassilis Hatzirvassanis in July 2012. Most of the pics that follow are his (except for the underwater ones). Vassilis and I were hosted by the Department of Forests, based at Platania Kakopeteria Forest facility and working on an HCMR project for the Cyprus Water Development Department. We decided we would prolong our stay, and give more effort, by doing everything low-budget. So I cooked at night and we ate al fresco camping-style anywhere (including by the Pediaios in the middle of Lefkosia). We even made our own coffee most days; I learnt so much from Vassilis' discipline. During the work we employed no less than half a dozen volunteers who would meet up with us and help in the sampling - which incidently took place throughout the island. The volunteers included Elli Tzirkali (who also hosted us in her research room at Platania), Haris Nikolaou and friends from the Forests Department, Gerald Dorflinger from the WDD, Athena and Lefkios from Terra Cypria. It was a great time for me. Budget Rent-a-Car gave me a great deal on a leased jeep: 33 Euros per day!!! Smith-Root let me borrow a new electrofisher (which I later found cash to buy). I felt so good about this trip - and I am still so thankful for it. I lost 2.5 kilos working all day for two weeks - despite the obvious muscle build-up. I felt totally revived. Life is beautiful - oftentimes for those who love nature...

The largest Brown Trout ever caught using electricity in Cyprus, at an undisclosed tributary on the western side of the Island.

Big BIG Brown Trout in Crystal clear summer waters. They were introduced 70 years ago; and still survive. There are nearly 200 kms of perrenial running cool mountain waters in the Troodos of Cyprus. Its surprising there are no native salmonids there.
The Maroulena Stream: A unique volcanic canyon near Lefkosia with cool water feeding bedrock pools -even when the temperature soared at 44 C in mid July. This spot is famous for its Snakes (an endemic subspecies of Grass Snake found only in three spots on the island). Did'nt see any.

Fishing in the Maroulena with members of the Forests Department. On that hot day I discovered Mahalebe - a delicacy at a road-side stall - the best dessert you can have after a swetty time lugging 15 kilos on your back.
Gerald from the WDD in the lower reaches of the Diarizos near the small T/Cypriot village of Siskyou - no fish in the stream but hundreds of thousands of tadpoles. 
This eel we found upstream of the Arminou Dam - we did'nt expect it but many people instisted they exist. How do they by-pass the dam?

My good friend Elli who is doing her PhD on Butterflies, Grasshoppers, Plants and Climate change on Cyprus - Good Luck Elli!!! (Here we are at the beautiful Xeros river in Pafos). The trees are Oriental Alders!!!
Having lunch al fresco near the Green Line on the Pediaios River with my friend Vassilis. Now I am not a good cook and Vassilis is not exaclty picky about food options. It was great!
A true-blue Rainbow at the Kalidonia stream near Platres. Underwater photo in-situ - th e water was freezing even in the Summer at 1500 m. asl.
One of the firest Brown Trout I ever caught and photographed wild in the water at the Upper Diarizos (Platys Tributary). What a beautiful fish...
Swarming school of Rainbows at the hatchery pools of Kalopanayotis. The Dept of Fishereis and Marine Research were always so kind and hospitable to us - thank you!!!
Photo of Roach inthe lower Diarizos - taken while snorkling - great to watch them. I was looking for River Blennies here but never found them.
James MacClaine from the British Museaum finally found the River Blennies for me - in the Museum collection -this specimen was deposited from Cyprus in 1909. We think it may be extinct on the island now. It was a great discover to find the specimens, thanks James!

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