Danube Day: River of Life
Danube Day celebrations this year highlight the variety of wildlife that swims the waters of the Danube River Basin and the important role they play in signalling the health of the environment.
The rivers of the Danube River Basin are teeming with life. The habitats created by the Danube and its tributaries house about 2,000 types of vascular plants and more than 5,000 different animal species. The Danube River Basin is home to more than 300 varieties of birds, and offers shelter for countless amphibians, reptiles and mammals.
It is fish, however, that play an important role in the Danube rivers. Fish are more than just a valuable source of food for the people living in the basin; healthy numbers of fish also serve as an important indicator of the biological quality of the river.
The theme for this year’s Danube Day — The Danube: River of Life — aims to celebrate all the life in the Danube, be it with feet or feathers or fins. To highlight the importance of our fi nned friends the ICPDR has produced a Danube Day poster focusing on some of the fish that make their home in the waters of the Danube River Basin.
Beluga sturgeon (Huso huso). The beluga sturgeon is the largest freshwater fish and can live to 100 years. Beluga sturgeons are capable of moving freely between freshwater and estuaries. Adult beluga sturgeons swim at middle depths and in the Black Sea prey on species such as flounder and other fl atfish, gobies and Black Sea anchovy.
All native sturgeon species are under pressure in the Danube Basin, due to their over-exploitation for caviar, the pollution and degradation of spawning grounds, and the interruption of migration routes. Efforts are under way to implement a Sturgeon Action Programme to bring all the sturgeons back to the Danube.
Danube streber (Zingel streber). The Danube streber is yellow-brown in colour and has several dark bands crosswise along its body. The average length is approximately 15 centimetres, but they can grow to over 18 centimetres long.
The Danube streber is found in fast-flowing river stretches. It becomes active after sundown when it goes searching for food. A remarkable characteristic of the Danube streber is its ability to hold itself on the riverbed, despite even the strongest currents. The Danube streber feeds almost exclusively on organisms that are driven near it by the water.
Danube salmon (Hucho hucho). This large freshwater fish has an elongated body, a large head and mouth, and strong teeth. The back of the Danube salmon is grey-brown to red-brown in colour and patterned with numerous dark spots; the sides are reddish grey with a copper-coloured gloss, and the belly is silvery-white. It prefers cool, oxygen-rich water.
Sterlet (Acipenser ruthenus). The sterlet has a narrow, pointed snout with four long, fringed barbels. It has a tail like that of a shark, where the backbone continues into the top lobe, which is longer than the bottom lobe. Sterlets grow to a maximum length of 70 centimetres.
The sterlet inhabits rivers and their tributaries, living in brackish freshwater at depths of around one metre. The sterlet uses its sensitive barbels to locate food, preferring insect larvae, worms and snails.
Get involved! Danube Day is a celebration of the Danube and its tributaries. This day strengthens ‘Danube identity’ and the knowledge that we all depend on each other. Nothing can be achieved without cooperation; it takes people from all walks of life across the basin to make a real difference.
To find out more about Danube Day visit www.danubeday.org or contact your national Danube Day contact person.
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