Biodiversity of the Kryos River, Cyprus

It was 05, 08, 2012 and the first location was the Kouris Dam which is situated at approximately 250m above sea level near to the village of Ypsonas; it is fed by the rivers,  Limnatis and Kryos which were of particular interest. Water leaves the dam via the Kouris river. During this trip we had set out to first explore the river ‘Kryos’ which in Greek language translates into ”Cold’ although the temperature of the water there was a reasonable 27.9°C in most places.

On the way to the Kryos river, we passed the immense Kouris dam itself and the amazing views. On passing one particular cove we decided to stop to investigate. Leaving the 2×4 vehicle behind we walked down the rocky hillside to the waters edge. On the way we stopped to greet a very well camouflaged Chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) who crossed our path, and then went on its way.

Chameleon CyprusWe were still about 100 metres or so from the area we wanted to investigate so I swam the distance with the net pole while Christodoulos made some observations and took photographs of the habitat.

   Swimming into the very deep cove

I eventually reached the shallows of the cove and quickly spotted a small group of 5 young Lepomis gibbosus. These are a beautiful species which were introduced from North America in the early 20th century. Only 3 species of fish inhabiting freshwater environments are considered native to Cyprus, Anguilla anguilla (freshwater eel), Salaria fluviatilis (freshwater blenny) and Aphanius fasciatus (Mediterranean killifish). The other 13 or so species are all introduced for various reasons such as the Gambusia holbrooki (Mosquito fish) which were introduced to reduce mosquito larvae populations and have multiplied in their millions aggressively out-competing the native Aphanius species in some locations.

   It was worth the grueling swim there and back just to see such a beautiful fish (Lepomis gibbosus) even though it is a non native introduced species.

We swiftly moved on to the Kryos river, which is a potamos / stream like river system with a bed comprised mostly of smooth round and flat stones along most of its course. We trecked through the water along a long stretch of the river for several hours searching for anything we could find and we certainly found some very beautiful creatures indeed. These included a variety of freshwater crabs (below) amongst others.

    Literature suggests that Potamon potamios is most abundant in Cyprus but these were just 3 of many very different crabs we found. Possibly juvenile stages? or variants?

We quite quickly found fish in the stream and they were fast! – juvenile specimens of both Rutilus rutilus (Roach) and Perca fluviatilis (Perch), another two introduced species and not of too much interest to us for this trip (below).

   Perca fluviatilis (Perch) 

                                   Rutilus rutilus (Roach)

  Young Perca fluviatilis‘ defensive strategy is to remain totally still once it finds a crevice

We also found one individual trapped in a discarded home-made fishing net (another significant problem in Cypriot waters). Interestingly enough, the crabs had learned to stay very close by to take advantage of this (spot one in the photo) and we found one crab devouring the remains of another previously trapped fish also.

Water specifications were as follows; Temperature – 27.9°C (in most places), Conductivity 1209 μs (TDS 602 ppm), pH 8.5, gH ~20, kH 15.

Two creatures we could not escape were Pelophylax. sp (green water frogs) and damselflies!

  Pelophylax.sp – green water frogCalopteryx splendens – Banded Demoiselle (male)

These two types of creatures were everywhere and in various shapes and colours. Frogs spanning a colour range of dark brown through to bright green and damselflies in red, pink, blue, green and more (also varying colour with gender).

We left in the early afternoon when the air temperature was between 38-40°C. Our next stop would be the Akrotiri Wetlands a few days later, in the hope of finding and investigating environmental pressures on the native Cypriot Killifish (Aphanius cf. fasciatus)…

Chris Englezou is the owner at C.E. Fish Essentials and founder of the Freshwater Life Project, an international freshwater fish conservation charity based in the UK. His passion for keeping and breeding ornamental fish has spanned over 25 years and has taken him deep into the jungles of Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, India; he is passionate about the freshwater biodiversity of the Mediterranean, particularly Cyprus.

Chris Englezou

Chris Englezou is the owner at C.E. Fish Essentials and founder of the Freshwater Life Project, an international freshwater fish conservation charity based in the UK. His passion for keeping and breeding ornamental fish has spanned over 25 years and has taken him deep into the jungles of Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, India; he is passionate about the freshwater biodiversity of the Mediterranean, particularly Cyprus.

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