The population of Taiwan’s critically endangered Formosan landlocked salmon has reached a record high of more than 15,000, an annual survey by Shei-Pa National Park showed.
The endemic subspecies of salmon, a “glacial relict” left in Taiwan after the last ice age, is found only in freshwater streams at elevations higher than 1,500m.
The number of endangered species in Taiwan is estimated at 15,374, with large populations in Cijiawan Creek (七家灣溪) and Hehuan Creek (合歡溪), and smaller populations in Luoyewei Creek (羅葉尾溪), Arikatsu Creek (有勝溪), Nanhu Creek (南湖溪) and Bilu Creek (畢祿溪), the survey showed.
Photo courtesy of the Shei-Pa National Park Administration
The salmon is now found in many tributaries along the upper reaches of the Dajia River (大甲溪), with its habitat in the 1970s extending to about 80 percent of the range, the park office said in a statement on Wednesday.
The office’s first survey of Formosan landlocked salmon in 1995 showed that the species was close to extinction, with a population of about 200 in the Dajia River basin.
The population began to gradually recover after a conservation program was established, surpassing 5,000 in 2018 and 10,000 in 2019, the office said.
National park officials plan to work on several remote streams in the Central Mountain Range in October in an effort to release more Formosan landlocked salmon, it said.
That procedure once involved taking juvenile salmon, known as fry, to the release points in bags of water — a method that limits the number of salmon that can be carried, and puts them at risk of oxygen starvation, the office said.
Given advances in conservation techniques, the salmon this year can be released in their “eyed egg” stage — as fertilized eggs less than 30 days old that have visible eye spots — thus improving their chances of survival, the park office said.
Formosan landlocked salmon typically grow to about 30cm long. The species is depicted on the back of the NT$2,000 bank note.
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