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Fish rediscovered after being lost for 50 years

Turkish ichthyologists have made an amazing discovery of the critically endangered Batman River Loach, which had last been seen in 1974. In fact, this is the first fish to be found as part of a more ambitious plan. 

Nonprofit organizations Shoal and Re:Wild have teamed up to create a top 10 most wanted lost fishes list. The Batman RIver Loach is the first on this list to be found after the project launched in June 2021. 

“When I first heard about the Search for the Lost Fishes project, I was very happy,” said Cüynet Kaya, associate professor with Recep Tayyip Erdogan University in Turkey.

“Moreover, two of the 10 most wanted fish species were distributed in my country. It is a very different feeling when you see naturalists from foreign countries caring about an endemic species in your country and making efforts to save it.” 

“As a freshwater fish taxonomist, I thought that I should do my best for this project, and fortunately our efforts resulted in finding the first lost endemic and critically endangered Batman River loach.” 

The Batman River Loach is the smallest loach in the Middle East. With a length of approximately 1.4 inches, it is smaller than any loaches in Europe. 

Scientists had previously searched in the last known locations for the loach but to no avail. Kaya and Münevver Oral, a research fellow with Recep Tayyip Erdogan University together took a different approach. 

The scientists analyzed the possible habitats where the Batman River Loach could survive and searched the Sarim Stream, upstream from the Batman Dam. Using tightly knit nets, they found 14 fish in Sarim Stream. Nine more fish were found in Han Stream. 

The researchers said the population of fish seems stable but they worry about the impact of pollution, drought and invasive species. Such a small number of fish is inherently a fragile population.      

Image Credit: Re:Wild

By Zach Fitzner, Staff Writer

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