Children

The wild under water

Mahseer

Habitat: Varied

Status: Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened

The wild under water

The ‘Mighty Mahseers’ are large freshwater fish considered to be among the world’s hardest fighting freshwater game fish. These ‘tigers of the water’ are also revered in India as ‘God’s fishes’.

There are several varieties found in India, with the most popular being the golden or Himalayan mahseer and the humpback mahseer of the Cauvery basin. The IUCN’s Red List lists four species of the mahseer found in India as endangered, one as vulnerable, and one as near threatened. Destruction of their habitat, poaching, indiscriminate fishing, construction of dams and limited resources are some of the factors putting pressure on their population.

Pookode Lake Barb

Habitat: Pookode Lake, Kerala

Status: Critically Endangered

Pethia pookodensis or the Pookode Lake Barb is named after Pookode Lake in Wayanad, the second largest freshwater lake in Kerala, which this species calls home. Their ecologically fragile home has been under threat due to uncontrolled construction and farming activities that have resulted in more than half the lake being covered in water weeds.

Though endemic to the lake, some unconfirmed sightings of this species have been recorded recently at the water bodies inside the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala.

Ganges shark

Habitat: Gangetic river basin

Status: Critically Endangered

The wild under water

Endemic to India, this species of freshwater shark can be spotted in the rivers Hooghly (West Bengal), Ganges, Brahmaputra, and the Mahanadi. It is often confused with the more common bull shark, though it differs in appearance with its two spineless dorsal fins and a broad, rounded snout.

The shark’s small population, long gestation period and small litter sizes are a challenge for experts trying to spot and study them. This species is specifically affected by a demand for its fin and jaws, and for its meat and oil.

Butterfly fish

Habitat: Indian ocean

Status: Least Concern

The wild under water

This state animal of Lakshadweep can be found in the waters surrounding the islands. Living in a habitat affected by climate change, ‘survival of the adaptable’ seems to be their motto. The coral reefs that are their source of food, are increasingly becoming affected by the rising temperature of water resulting in ‘bleaching’ of the corals. These fish have surprised researchers by maintaining their population. They manage by changing their eating habits. In areas with limited food resources, they eat compulsively and even what they would otherwise not choose to eat.


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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 9:51:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/the-wild-under-water/article36939646.ece

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