Sat, Oct 25, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Salmon survive tough typhoons

STURDIER STOCK Typhoons in the past wiped out at least 50 percent of the fish, but only 30 percent of them disappeared after the two fierce typhoons last month

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Workers with the Shei-Pa National Park Administration Center release Formosan landlocked salmon fry into the streams of Shei-Pa National Park last year.

PHOTO: CHANG HSUAN-CHE, TAIPEI TIMES

The Shei-Pa National Park Administration Center’s efforts to conserve the rare Formosan landlocked salmon meant most of the fish survived the two typhoons last month, the center’s deputy director-general, Peng Mao-hsiung (彭茂雄), said on Thursday.

Peng said the number of fish, which are protected, fell from 5,321 to 3,629 after typhoons Sinlaku and Jangmi swept through the nation last month, bringing strong winds and torrential rain.

The rate of loss of the fish after the typhoons was registered at about 30 percent, lower than a minimum of 50 percent registered after previous typhoons, Peng said.

The fish is also known as “cherry blossom hook salmon” because of its hooked nose and cherry blossom-shaped spots. It is found mainly in the Cijiawan River (七家灣溪) in the national park, the southernmost line for salmon in the northern hemisphere.

Peng said most of the salmon washed away in rivers swollen by rains in the two typhoons were smaller fish, less than 15cm in length.

“This was probably because they were not strong enough to swim against the pull of the raging river,” Peng said, adding that they may have been flushed downriver or injured by sand and stones in the water.

Peng said the center has spent many years working to improve the construction of 26 debris dams in the national park to ensure a smooth passage for the salmon when they swim upriver to breed.

The dams were built decades ago to protect a reservoir in the national park by trapping sand and gravel, but this has also hampered the upstream migration of the salmon.

The center also planted trees along the river to improve water quality, as trees help to prevent sand and soil from slipping into the river.

The landlocked salmon was designated as an endangered species by the government in 1984.

The administration center began its efforts to conserve the fish in 1992 when the national park was established and the number of salmon recorded at about 600, Peng said.

Peng said the center would release almost 1,000 salmon fry, which were spawned artificially, into the stream next March to test their adaptation to the natural environment.

He said he hoped that conservation efforts would be expanded and that the species would be able to inhabit the national park permanently.

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