Upper Mazaruni’s rare fish species facing extinction threat from mining

– scientists warn

The “lost world” of the Upper Mazaruni River harbours a wide diversity of fishes found nowhere else in the world but the highland ecosystem is under threat from mining activities and protection of this area has been urged.

“Between 67% and 95% of the species of fish in the Upper Mazaruni (River) doesn’t exist anywhere in the world,” Curator of Freshwater Fishes at the Royal Ontario Museum, Hernan Lopez-Fernandez told Stabroek News in a recent interview. Lopez-Fernandez was part of a team of ichthyologists involved in several expeditions in rivers across Guyana over the past few years to collect and study the freshwater fishes.

At least 25 species of fishes new to science were discovered and studies are being done to properly classify them, he said. “They didn’t exist anywhere else,” he noted. Lopez-Fernandez, who is also attached to the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto, said that the discoveries are pretty significant as it was assumed that fishes in Guyana are the same as in Suriname but “a lot of fishes that live in Guyana’s rivers are endemic to Guyana. They don’t live anywhere else.”

There is an incredible diversity of fishes in the Upper Mazaruni River, he said, adding that there is no other river system in South America that has such a high number of species living in a single river. According to the ichthyologist, between 67% and 95% of the fish species in the Upper Mazaruni River do not  …..To continue reading, login or subscribe now.

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