45°04'59.88" N • 29°30'0.00" E

Danube Delta: fighting to save the Danube Dinosaur

 

Kenneth and Susann arrived at the end of their journey, the Danube Delta in Romania. This area of marshes, lakes, channels, streamlets and floating reed islands is spread over 4,500 km2 and two countries and hosts an incredible diversity of plants and animals, many of which are extremely rare elsewhere in the EU. Joined by the very knowledgeable Daniel Petrescu for a boat ride in this UNESCO biosphere reserve, Kenneth and Susann spotted king fishers, pelicans, grey herons, white-tailed eagles, black cormorants and many others… The Delta hosts over 300 different kinds of birds.

It also hosts the flagship fish of the Danube, the sturgeon, which lives part of its life in the slightly salty waters of the Black Sea and then travels upriver to lay its famous eggs – a.k.a. caviar – in the stream where it first hatched. Also known as the Dinosaur of  the Danube, sturgeons have inhabited the Earth from the time of the dinosaurs with hardly any changes, so they really are living fossils. Until the 19thcentury, these giant fish – growing up to 100 years old and 4.5 metres long – could be seen as far upriver as Germany.

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Today, this amazing animal is threatened with extinction. It has survived the dinosaurs but it is now facing the combined dangers of illegal

fishing (mainly for its caviar), water pollution, and the fragmentation of its habitat (by the construction of a hydroelectric power plant and by the many dams along the river), blocking its route towards the source of the river. The best chance to see those Danube Dinosaurs is to visit the Danube Delta Museum in Tulcea.  Kenneth and Susann admired the majesty of  these “goldfish” (as the fishermen here call them) while learning more about them.

In 2012, the Danube Sturgeon Task Force (DSTF) came to their rescue. The DSTF was formed in the framework of EU’s Danube Strategy Priority Area  6 “Biodiversity” by a broad coalition of European and international actors recognising that the Danube sturgeon could only be saved if people all along the Danube acted together.  They work closely with the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) and have recently adopted a Sturgeon Strategy to save the fish.

The fact that their work is of outmost importance was confirmed recently at the European Sturgeon Conference, organised by the Austrian EU Presidency beginning of July.

The messages were alarming as the urgency of actions to prevent the species from being extinct. Read more about it here.

Long live to the Danube Dinosaur!

See also

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“Having been selected for the Road Trip Project is unbelievable! I am ready to take you along with me: this is going to be the trip of a lifetime!” – Fabian