Sunday, June 29, 2014

Anatolian Rivers

Great Meander River Basin, June 2014

With Turkish ichthyologists, Vasso and I have explored Turkey's Meander Basin (Buyuk Menderes). The team has already sampled over 45 sites on the rivers and 8 sites on the lakes and transitional waters (several site's sampled twice!). This is done in the framework of a project for promoting the Water Framework Directive in their country. Fish will be used to assess the condition of the local water bodies - not an easy task. This will take much science and field ichthyology to perfect. Much also needs to be done to protect the natural fish assemblages and varied aquatic ecosystems of this great valley. The area's waters are threatened since so much must go to agriculture and industry. As is usually the one seems to have any idea of the fishes and other organisms that need these waters. Scientists must not sit back and watch!

Funny pose struck by my friend Kaan Yence, exploring Bafa Lake - one of the basin's most amazing landscapes.
A 'Greek island' on Lake Bafa: Kahve Hisar, its Byzantine Church and huge Pistacia trees full of  nesting egrets.

Atherina caught at Lake Bafa. The lake is polluted and has lost a lot of its fishes. It needs care.

Hiking to the a site for electrofishing near Karpuzlu on a southern tributary of the Cine River.

Tributary of the Cine near Karpuzlu, fascinating landscape near Golcuk village. A porcupine quill (Hystrix indica !!!) was found here.... 
One of may favorite Anatolian fishes Petroleuciscus ninae - could I dare say a common name "Nina's Chub"; this is a young one. The species was described in 2018 by Turan, Kalayci, Kaya, Bektas & Kucuk (Journal of Fish Biology)

Kaan caught these adult Petroleuciscus ninae from the Karpuzlu area. This species survives well in small pond in the drying stream. At the time we caught these, we did not know we were dealing with a new undescribed speceis that is ENDEMIC to the tributaries of the Great Meander (see above).
Turkish prairie country: Real wheat and barley among steppe south of Usak on the Dokuzsele River valley. 
Turkish Biologists, Pinar Guler and Kaan Yence on the tiny Hamam tributary near Ulubey - finding fishes.
My life-muse Vass ; Real Turks Kaan and Pinar, and yours in our beloved Lake Isikli. 

Vasso with some beautiful Barbus pergamonensis (Bergama Barbrel) in the upper Dandalaz river near Aphrodisias

A really big Luciobarbus kottelati (Kottelat's Barbel) on the upper Ciner river (c. 40 cm).

 Cyprinid Jewels:  Two upper ones are a local Bleak, Alburnus sp., and the lower fish is the local Vimba (V. cf. mirabilis).
Near Kafacakaplancik, the upper Cine river. Deep and full of big fish!

A scarce and poorly-known fish, the un-named Spirlin of the Meander (Alburnoides sp). Upper Cine river.
Professor Cevher Ozeren in the precious habitat of the local Spirlin; the Upper Cine.

Stone Loaches (Oxynoemacheilus sp.) are very tolerant of polluted waters - here on the lower Dandalaz near Basaran where nearly all the river-water is taken for agriculture.
An invasive promoted by many dams - the American Sunfish, sometimes called "Japanfish" by the locals.

The Meander meanders no more.  Near Aydin the river is completeley straightened and influenced by severe water abstraction. Despite this state we found 13 fish species here, several alien species.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Kuwait: a little bit of paradise

One of the northern Gulf's largest sea bird colonies is on a small coral reef island, it is an important bird area, unfortunately unprotected in practice.

June 12th Leaving Kuwait

After 18 dives on thirteen reefs in Kuwait we feel elated and enthused with what richness still exists in this amazing short stretch of the Gulf. So much of it is so fragile and so beautiful. So much of it needs careful scientific attention and serious conservation measures. All we can do to complete this last dispatch from our travels is send some final highlights from these reefs and beaches. And hope that all who love this, will take cherish and care for it.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Kuwait: 'Clear water" reef !

June 7th 2014

In a desert country, in summer - the sea is paradise. We went off to a familiar reef far off-shore; at a clear-water spell between tidal surges. Of course, many Kuwaiti recreation boats joined us, not all were hooked up on bouys. Its so sad to see so much anchor damage in paradise. This is why I am not giving out place-names. Those who know Kuwait will recognize this location, it has recently become popular. 

This reef is really unique since it is so extensive and has a steeply loping reef-slope with layears of reef formations in theater-like sea-scapes. Acropora (stag-horn coral) is much more abundant and covers much more area than any other reef in this country. It is incredibly rich in fishes - relative to other reefs. In two dives today I talleyed 43 fish species; several species not seen in near-shore reefs. Here in the outer reefs there are wonderful Gulf Parrotfish and Bullethead Parrotfish and more 'southern' reef elements such as Arabian butterflyfish, colourful blennies, damsels, lionfish etc. that are scarce or unknown nearshore. I have been told that parrot fish are vary susceptible to spear-fishing and were once more widespread. 

But the most amazing thing today, on the first dive, was the clearity of the water. About 13 meters I think. Of course visibility here changes through the day with tidal movements, weather etc. so conditions like this are considered exceptional. 

Beautiful, no other word. And I saw my first Sea Snake today (sorry no pic of that yet!).