February 21st 2014

IMBRIW complted a rapid visit to the Sperchios river basin. This area is one of the most important rivers and coastal embayments for its biodiversity in Greece. Our field trip was practically one of the first reconnaissance surveys for a new ambitious project initiated by HCMR. The KRIPIS project will be studying the Sperchios river basin and its coastal waters (more will be announced in the comming months as the project enters implementation).

If the project progresses as planned, the river basin, its delta and the marine waters of the Maliakos Gulf will be the object of an in-depth study for the next one-and-a-half years. The area is worth it: A hive of biodiversity richness and a biogeographical crossroads – its waters are still poorly studied. And this basin is in need of careful monitoring and conservation management since there are local pollution problems, habitat degradation, water mismanagment and fisheries management issues among other conservation problems. 

During this visit, naturalist David Koutsogiannopoulos photographed some of the freshwater fishes at one tiny spots in the lower Sperchios Drainage. The fishes were collected using electrofishing gear and placed in a small aquarium for the specialized photography. These species shown here are endemic to the southern Balkans (Squalius vardarensis),  to Greece (Barbus sperchiensis, Pelasgus marathonicus), and some are even exclusivelyendemic to the Sperchios basin (Pungitius hellenicus, Rutilus sp. Sperchios, Alburnoides sp. Sperchios). Two of the local endemics are currently under taxonomic review and will be published as valid species in the comming months. The river has at least 13 species of fishes in its freshwaters – it would be very interesting to see how the fish faunal assemblage may be useful for assessing the river’s ecological health. Good luck to this new project!

Reported by Dr. S. Zogaris, photography by D. Koutsogiannopoulos.