New locality for rare endemic fish ‘Larkansyel’


Young and older participants learning about what lives in the river

As we approached them by foot, they swam away and hid beneath the rocks and the roots of mangroves, but their curiosity grew when Philippe swam with them in the water. They came up to his mask as if checking out the new intruder into their homes.

This was the first record of the freshwater fish ‘Larkansyel’ in the Port Glaud river which flows into the mangrove near the St Pierre and St Paul church. The only known localities of this rare endemic fish were Rivière Grand St. Louis at Bel Ombre and Rivière Dauban at Barbarons where they were discovered for the first time in 2003.

The recent discovery was made by a group of local researchers doing a research as part of the GEF-UNDP Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) project aiming at assessing the biodiversity of key sites for conservation purposes. A component of the project is focused on rivers. The group and other stakeholders were being trained and helped by a freshwater specialist Prof. Philippe Keith from the Musée d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris.

There is still a lot of prospection to be done in Seychelles with respect to freshwater biodiversity and the opportunity to discover new species or new records of certain species is real.

This is an important finding since very little is known on the occurrence and distribution of ‘Larkansyel’. Its discovery stresses the need to protect rivers and mangrove areas since this rare species in mainly found in the restricted area between mangroves and the lower river course.

The endemic freshwater fish ‘Larkansyel’
Mangroves have been largely destroyed in Seychelles. They have been heavily impacted by coastal reclamation, and pollution poses further threats to this ecosystem. Such stresses will impact on species leading to population declines but some species may even disappear before they are discovered. Hence, it is vital for people to maintain the integrity of natural resources, protect their environment and limit impacts on the native biodiversity of Seychelles.

Contributed by the KBA experts under the GEF-UNDP Key Biodiversity Area project

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