Upper Kifissos River, Athens: Studying the river fish as bioindicators

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Upper Kifissos River, Athens: Studying the river fish as bioindicators

Dimitris Komatas in the water.

Upper Kyphisos River, Athens
November 2, 2018

Most of what we do is not part of any "project". We get ideas, prioritize, try things, often fail, sometimes succeed.

One of the places we are interested in is the Kyphisos River in Athens. A few years ago we tried hard to secure a project here - financing was simply not possible (...probably the start of the Great Greek Recession of 2010 didn't help). But we did the first electrolysis and caught a lot of fish (and got 5 minutes of fame in the urban media world). Cyphis has fish, and not only some natives, but also a few "cruciferous fish" (these creatures are native to Greece, but were brought by humans from outside their natural range).

Fish are indicators of the health of river ecosystems, and we know well that these rivers suffer from serious degradation and pollution. Thus, even in the "cleanest" surface water areas near Metamorfasi-Likourisi and Kifissia, the rivers are good "natural laboratories" for studying different stresses in the urban environment as bioindicators. In this regard, one of our leading experts, Nicholas Koutikas (PhD student), is here to show that the most modified fish are indeed an indicator of how much dirt they've ingested! For the first time, the problem of microplastics was studied in this legendary stream.

Today we visited a place on the river, 150 meters above sea level, 20 kilometers from the sea (in the area of ​​Likaversichi, north of Athens, not far from Agios Anargiri Hospital).

In addition to N. Koutikas and myself, a team of three, including Dimitris Komatos, one of the most experienced electrofishing experts in Greece. We caught our fish, collected about 120 fresh samples of tentacles and chips on ice (for Nicholas and colleagues' lab work), and examined other exotic/native species. Most of all, we found Vardar rod and Sperchios barbel (number ratio about 80:20). Some chips are very large old fish (one or two over 45cm in total length). No one knows exactly when these fish were first introduced here, but it was probably in the 60s or early 70s by Dr. S. Alexander Stephanides, who was actively involved in his extensive ichthyological research. Finally, we were surprised to find 6 large eels at a depth of 150 meters. Our tea samples, most of the large samples can be more than 7 or 10 years old.

Although it is important not to find alien or other invasive fish species, and our survey was intended to "collect" samples for rapid laboratory analysis, we did not find any other species (negative result = good result!). And this is news. We did not find any domestic marathon runners (why did they disappear?). Serious toxic industrial pollution, illegal waste, etc. are reported. For these reasons, many fish die in rivers. Anyway, the part of the suburban river we explored was just beautiful!

Kyphisos Valley at the top of Ayoyo Anargiri Hospital Basin (Likaversi-Menidi).

The "Irish Road" is what we call a concrete river in Greece.

Dimitris carefully inspects all the bodies (using three underwater nets, the Smith-Roth 24L electrofisher anode has no net - nice to see below). This is the rift zone where most of the tents are.
Vardar head and barbel Sperchios. We also diligently searched for other species (admittedly, we used the express shooting method).

It is a "year-old young barbel not more than 5 cm (total length)".

Yes, this is the biggest puppy we have ever caught!

One of the six most beautiful snakes found in Europe. He is aggressive and exhibits "biting" behavior - mouth gasping and about to bite me... (these guys have bitten me several times in the past, but only a few examples of this behavior) . Of course, even endangered and native fish are not caught.
He marveled at the algae in the polluted river. Notice how these pebbles are covered in greenish-brown silt and how they are planted in the river....unhealthy.

A common scenario with too much plastic: Are fish swallowing it?

Note the olives in the background: Attic view my friends, but the legend is completely ignored!
The weight of the Smith-Roth electric trap is about 15 kg.
Nick grumbled about it.

Equipment for group trips of three or more people.
Yes, this is a wild and real oriental plane tree Platanus orientalis !

Now the water is being pumped out, but this year there were spring floods. A wonderful environment for education and environmental awareness.

And a mini flare in 2010…….
Yes, when we were famous in Athens…

Spring 2010 when we first met Vardar Chubs in Kifissas. The measured fish is 34 cm. Of course, we did not expect that. After some DNA barcodes and measurements we determined it was Squalius vardarensis - the Sperchios River closest to the main range, 300 km to the north. (Photo by our Kalamata man Leonidas Vardakas from http://khfi-sos.blogspot.com/2012/01/blog-post_9827.html ).

Nicholas Koutikas is very young, he and D. Kommatos have been working with us since 2006. It has our vintage Hans-Grass electric clutch. - As seen in a Greek newspaper in 2010, in a report about the kifisas fish (but with a photo of large petasita leaves). Maybe not from Kyphisos - I think). Very glorious days - but this announcement did not give us the project. (Edit: https://www.espressonews.gr )

Put Kiphisos on the map! Another interview, this time with Leonidas Vardakas himself, was published in this newspaper about the discovery of the hyphyzos chip that makes fish as useful as fowl (2010, from Ta Nea newspaper. http://khfi-sos. blogspot .com/ 2012/01/ blog-post_4567.html ) . I don't like to rewrite some pictures from well-known books of journalists, but such a "product" still exists.

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