New fish species found in Turkey's Lake Van

New fish species found in Turkey's Lake Van

VAN - Anadolu Agency
New fish species found in Turkeys Lake Van

A new fish species has been found in Lake Van, one of the world’s largest saline soda ponds.

Lake Van, in the eastern provinces of Van, was previously thought to be home to only one kind of fish: Pearl mullets.

The new species, discovered by a local gendarmerie underwater squad during their diving training in the lake, is some five to six-centimeters long and this particular species inhabit the 13-meters tall microbialite formation in the lake.

The underwater team spotted the new species inside the microbialite.

A microbialite is a sedimentary body formed on the bed of a lake from the remains of algae and cyanobacteria.

“We can now say two fish species live in Lake Van. This new species appear to live in a confined area around a microbialite. They are grayish with black spots on them. We are yet to determine what type fish they are,” said Professor Mustafa Sarı, the dean of the Maritime Studies Department at the Bandırma Onyedi Eylül University.

Sarı, an academic from the department of aquaculture and an underwater photographer, has launched an expedition to take photos of the newly found fish.

The professor, who has collected samples from the microbialite and the fish, has hailed it as an “important discovery.”

He noted Lake Van has a different ecological system and the biodiversity in the lake is limited.

“Lake Van is home to the largest microbialites in the world and studies on those formations always reveal new findings” Sarı said.

“During our previous studies, we had not encountered new species but we have found 103 types of phytoplankton, 36 kinds of zooplankton and pearl mullets. However, now, we can say there are two fish species living in Lake Van,” he added.

“The newly found species is a very tiny fish. The microbialite they inhabit was formed on a fresh water fracture. It still disposes a fairly large amount of calcium freshwater into the lake. Thus, a freshwater habitat has developed around the microbialite. It seems the pearl mullets have not been alone all along. The mullets now have a sibling,” Sarı said.

Lake Van was formed 800,000 years ago, he said.

“This fish have been living in this very lake for 800,000 years, but no one noticed them. Boats are cruising above them, fishers are navigating along the lake. We are the human beings who have encountered this species for the first time in 800,000 years of the lake’s history,” said the professor.

Sarı said their first studies showed this was a rather small population but “they keep reproducing.”