Searching for the Cypriot Killifish (Aphanius cf. fasciatus) PART 2

Chris Englezou Biotope, Conservation 2 Comments

Our first trip to investigate the biotopes, behaviour and distribution of the Cypriot killifish, Aphanius cf fasciatus yielded some interesting results and outlined the serious environmental pressures being placed upon Aphanius cf fasciatus in Cyprus. It brought to light the bleek outlook for the future of this potentially unique species of native Cypriot fish.
On the 31.07.14, Christodoulos and I returned to Akrotiri to examine the individual sites at this location where Aphanius can be found. Areas of particular interest on this day were the coastal lagoons located at the military perimeter.

The largest lagoon (shown above) nicknamed “Stinky Pond” by the British Soldiers is only 150m x 100m at its largest points

We drove through the thick reed beds and eventually got to the opposite side where some English soldiers directed us to the coastal pool, which they had nicknamed “Stinky Pond”. On arrival we were disheartened to find that this deep pool was littered with discarded tyres and other junk and even found one juvenile female Aphanius diseased and dying at the waters edge. Fjallraven Kanken Mini This was however, a positive sign that we had come to the right place and the dying fish was likely due to the combination of high water temperature (29.3°C) and extreme hypersaline conditions in the pool (63.3 ppt Salinity). ugg australia classic

Driving through the high reeds We finally arrived at the coastal pool location

We were successful in finding Aphanius cf. fasciatus at a second location here at Akrotiri I was able to record the fish in their habitat which is shown in my video below. fjallraven kanken rucksack To my knowledge, it is the first recording of the Cypriot Killifish underwater in their biotope The isolated location of this coastal lagoon as well as the extreme water parameters are likely the reasons that only the Aphanius are able to survive here. However, the area is very small and is not officially protected like the adjacent Salt Lake, which leaves cause for concern as to how much longer the pool can be used as a dumping ground. With now only two locations on the island where this species can be found, compared with 3 locations just 2 years ago and with the recent extinction of two closely related species (The ‘Iranian’ Aphanius farsi and ‘Algerian’ Aphanius saourensis) as a result of similar environmental pressures, I’d like to hope that the Cyprus Department of Fisheries and Marine Research would act soon to protect this native species from disappearing from the island. One method to help preserve the species on the island was proposed by Dr S. Zogaris in his recent publication (download here) which suggested that Aphanius were likely to have existed in the past at the salt lake in Oroklini, Larnaca and could be re-introduced there to occupy that niche in replacement of the current Gambusia population. This idea seems to have been wisely adopted for consideration in the recent publication by the RSPB and Birdlife Cyprus (view here). Kanken Big It seems there may be hope for the species yet but it is early days and action is awaited. In an effort to initiate some type of captive preservation and propagation of the species, we collected some tiny fry (only 4mm in TL) which Christodoulos has been raising with a specially formulated feed provided on behalf of C.E. Fish Essentials.

Comments 2

  1. Hi Chris, in your blog post “Searching for the Cypriot Killifish (Aphanius cf. fasciatus) PART 2” 23rd January 2015, you write that “With now only two locations on the island where this species can be found, compared with 3 locations just 2 years ago”. Could you let me know what the 3rd location was?

  2. Pingback: Searching for the Cypriot Killifish (Aphanius cf fasciatus) | CE Fish Essentials

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