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Kyla Hooshmand, Editor in Chief • February 29, 2024

Darryl George, an 18-year-old junior at Barbers Hill High School, has spent much of his school year isolated due to in-school suspension for...

The Long-Lost Legend Leopard Fish Found Again in Turkey’s Rivers Confirming the Stories from Locals

The Long-Lost Legend Leopard Fish Found Again in Turkey’s Rivers Confirming the Stories from Locals

A team of ichthyologist in Turkey have rediscovered a “legend”, a spotted fish called the leopard barbel in the Turkish section of the Tigris River. The leopard babel was once abundant raging from Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and  Eastern Syria in the Tigris-Euphrates system. However, over the last three decades fishing, population, habitat, and dam construction have pushed the leopard babel species to extinction and last scientifically documented in 2011. Anecdotal evidence from local fishers have suggested that it is possible they are still out there so professor Cuneyt Kaya and assistant professor Munevver Oral at Recep Tayyip Erdogan University, offered their help to find one. The team started looking at where the leopard babel had been previously found but that was before nine dams were built in the Turkish part of the Tigris River. Days after the second of two expeditions, they got a call from a local fisherman Mehmet Ulku. He had caught a 20 inch, 4.4 pound fish that resemble the leopard barbel. Ulku kept the fish alive, putting it in a tank with constant oxygen supply while Kaya took a flight to confirm the species. When they arrived, Ulku had caught a second fish in his safety net and they were able to help release the first one as well. After Kaya and Oral took photos and measured the size and shape of the two fish, they were joined by local Cizre fisheries aquaculture department to safely release the fish. Kaya and Oral are planning to conduct a series of seminars for fishers and teachers to help build pride in their riverways and wildlife using this rediscovery as a case study to protect the Tigris River and it’s biodiversity. They also want to get a better understanding of how many leopard barbel fish mights still exist and where they are.

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