December 15, 2010

Japanese Salmon Species Alive And Well After All

A science professor said on Wednesday that a Japanese salmon species thought to be extinct for 70 years is alive and well in a lake near Mount Fuji.

The black kokanee was thought to have died out in 1940, when a hydroelectric project made its native lake in northern Akita Prefecture more acidic.

There were 100,000 eggs before then that were reportedly transported to Lake Saiko, but the species was still thought to have died off.

However, Tetsuji Nakabo, a professor at Kyoto University, told The Associated Press (AP) that his team of researchers found the species in Lake Saiko, which is located about 310 miles south of their native lake.

"I was really surprised. This is a very interesting fish "” it's a treasure. We have to protect it and not let it disappear again," he said.

Kunimasu are known to grow to about a foot in length.

Nakabo said that the lake had sufficient kunimasu for the species to survive if the current environment is maintained. 

Lake Saiko is located in a region popular with tourists for its Fuji views and hot springs baths.

The salmon is still listed as extinct in the public records of the Environment Ministry.  Yobukaze Naniwa, an official at the ministry, told AP that Nakabo's claim would be investigated before records are due to be updated by 2012.

Naniwa said that other species, including shellfish and plants, have been discovered in Japan after being declared extinct.


Image Caption: Scientists found the extinct fish species in Lake Saiko, which is located about 310 miles south of their native lake. Credit: Wikipedia  


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