Saturday, April 21, 2018

Wold Fish Migration Day- 21st April 2018_Rafina River Results!

Results of World Fish Migration Day in Greece

April 21st 2018, Rafina, Attika Greece.

Our event was short but powerful. We had more than 35 participants including school kids and seniors and several more curious people dropping by throughout the two hour electrofishing and "wild aquarium" display.

After electrofishing just a 15 m. stretch of the stream, we set up two field aquariums to show-off the catch. And what a display it was!!!

Within minutes our team of experts set up some fantastic looking "wild aquariums" that hosted four fish species: two mugilids (mostly thick-lipped grey mullet Chelon labrosus), some huge eels and the river blennies. The last fish, Salaria fluviatilis, is a newly discovered species for Attika, a very important find for the Rafina River!

We also saw some fantastic birds and enjoyed unique urban river scenes. This river is a prime opportunity for restoration and conservation education.

Just some pics of the event...

Electrofishing a short stretch of the lower Rafina River (Photo by Antonis Lazaris). 

Wild aquarium set up.

Everybody participating in the photography. 
The aquarim became a high-point of interest (Photo: Haris Vavalidis).

For some little ones....a peak experience (Photo: Haris Vavalidis).

Thick-Lipped Grey-Mullet, Chelon labrosus. 

We caught five wonderful European eels, Anguilla anguilla, one was about 70 cm long!

This is THE DISCOVERY OF THE DAY. A adult male Freshwater Blenny, Salaria fluviatilis. 

Freshwater Blenny, Salaria fluviatilis in black-and-white. Amazing fish.

Freshwater Blenny, Salaria fluviatilis, female.
This is what the 'wild aquarium' looked like at the end of the catch. The fish where releaseed within an hour (photo: Manos Sperelakis).

Detail of the wild aquarium (Photo: Manos Sperelakis).

Us catching eels with the trusty Smith-Root 24L Backpack Electrofisher (400 V, 50 hz, 1% duty cycle; freshwater conditions). Photo: Manos Sperelakis.
Rafina river.
Rafina river.

Rafina river.

The event was also hosted in 2014 in Vravrona, see:

And see the invitation for this years event at:
and at:

552 such events took place this year on the 21st of May in over 60 countries. An impressive statement for protecting and restoring rivers. 


We thank the World Fish Migration Day organization team for the event inspiration and structuring and hope to continue our collaboration, even bigger and better.

I thank my HCMR colleagues who participated: Giannis Kapakos, Giannis Leris, Manos Sperelakis, Haris Vavalidis. The members of the local municipality, especially Municipal Board Member Andreas Vassilopoulos and the local environmental committee fighting to save Rafina River - especially Emmanuela Terzopoulou and Antonis Lazaris.

From L to R: Yours, Giannis Leris, Anonymous Local, Andreas Vassilopoulos, Haris Vavalidis, Giannis Kapakos (Photo: Manos Sperelakis).

Sunday, April 15, 2018

World Fish Migration Day: Rafina River Attiki Greece, April 21 2018

Word Fish Migration Day: a public event at the Rafina River in Rafina, Attiki, Greece

On 21st of April, a Saturday, friends and I will officially participate in World Fish Migration Day!

A few years back we organized a successful even within the WFMD net work (see ) and it was a success.

Actually the reason I am doing this independently from my day-job at HCMR this year is that this day just happens to coincide with Greeces BIG Bird Race competition* - a tradition that we have built-up in Athens since the early 2000s. So since I happen to be both a birder and a 'fish activist', I want to participate in both these events....(So both will be rather side-projects...sorry...).

My team of birders (yes...) and colleagues from the institute will hold a two hour public event at Rafina Stream river mouth and we will do some fish sampling; we will display our live catch in a small aquarium  (...after this we will move on to continue the bird race ending up at Tritsis Park at 19:00 see asterisk "*" below at end of this post).

Rafina river is an important un-obstructed stream for a few migratory fishes, especially european eels. Its also an important restoration opportunity concerning "Nature Near Urban Areas" that needs special care (...and its threatened). We invite the public to come down to Rafina and see what we do when we scientifically survey for fishes  and to talk about eels and grey mullets and other fascinating migratory fishes.

We aim to:
  • Do scientific sampling using a back-pack electrofisher and a seine net  
  • Display live fishes in a field-set up "wild aquarium"
  • Fishes will be photographed in the aquaria and then released alive back into the river
  • Anyone interested will be informed and allowed to take photographs
  • No fish will be harmed - we do not encourage the keeping wild fishes in captivity.
Electrofishing is a great way to capture fishes without injuring them. The electrofishing generator momentarily stuns fishes which can then be scooped up with a dip-net, measured and released alive back to the river. Live fishes can also be placed for short periods into a field aquarium to be photographed. If the field aquarium is set up to display a natural scene it can be called a "wild aquarium" set up- and this is a kind of art.

 This kind of public awareness event is very easy to demonstrate if you have some basic ichthyological knowledge and an official licence to capture and handle native fishes for research purposes. 

Meeting Place: 
River mouth of the Rafina River 
Site coordinates: 38.018206, 24.011703

(at the footbridge, Karamanlis Park, Attiki):
FREE participation: Just meet us on site.

This event is supported by the World Migratory Fish Day 

Rafina is a port town just 25 Kms East of Athens. For more information on the Rafina river and campaigns to protect it see:
 This is the Rafina river near its river mouth next to Karamanlis Park. The foot-bridge next to Evvoikou street and spanning to Karamanlis Park is where we will meet. This is the stretch of the stream we plan to sample. The urban and peri-urban Rafina river is the site of a controversial river management project (flood measures etc). For more information and the credit of this drone photo see:

Setting up a simple "Wild Aquarium" during electrofishing is an easy way to show people fishes and to take great pics. In this case we were on expedition during an HCMR project and didn't take much care in the set-up.

All ichthyologists should take more pics of fishes. Here your's truly trying his best. 

Kids love wild aquariums.  This is from our first World Migration Day celebration at Vravrona in 2014. See:

The European eel is a globally threatened fish - listed as Critical by IUCN - it is a species we will try to capture and survey for during our work at Rafina. We should also capture grey mullet species also. All to be displayed for a short time in captivity within the "wild aquarium" set up. This eel is also from our first World Migration Day celebration at Vravrona in 2014. See:

* For more information on the Bird Race - within the 2nd Annual Greek Bird Race please contact the Hellenic Ornithological Society or see:\ BIRD RACE 2018