Life is Back in the Yarkon River

Tuesday, November 06, 2012 4:13 PM

KKL-JNF efforts to clean the Yarkon have enabled life to flourish again. The rare Yarkon Bleak fish has reappeared in the Yarkon River after 50 years of near extinction.

The Yarkon River, flourishing with life. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

In July of 1997, during the Maccabia Games, a bridge over the Yarkon River collapsed just as the Australian delegation was crossing over it. This led to the death of four athletes, along with many injured, not so much because of the fall, but because of contact with the poisonous brew that the Yarkon River had become. This terrible tragedy led JNF Australia to adopt Yarkon River rehabilitation as an ongoing project, enabling KKL-JNF to put its expertise in the fields of river restoration, urban forestry, recreation facilities and water recycling, among others, to good use. A sewage purification plant was built upstream, along with green wetlands, a new technology that purifies the water to a very high degree. Today, as a result of these efforts, life is returning to the Yarkon.
Near-extinct fish reintroduced to Yarkon River
October 16, 2012 Billie Frenkel
Yarkon Bleak fish, which all but disappeared over last 50 years, again thrives in central part of the river.
Some 50 years after the Yarkon Bleak fish all but disappeared from the water of the Yarkon River, it has reappeared in its central area, Ynet has learned.
The Yarkon Bleak, or Acanthobrama Telavivensis, is a species of ray-finned fish in the Cyprinidae family. It is found only in Israel. The silver fish, which grows to a length of 12-20 cm, once populated all of Israel's rivers, but has become nearly extinct due to its intolerance of pollution.
The Yarkon River Authority (YRA) was thrilled by the discovery, saying it indicated that the great efforts made to rehabilitate the river's water, which have suffered severe pollution over the years, are proving successful.
"This is a very significant find. If the fish is able to thrive is means that the water in the part of the river have a high quality," Jonathan Raz, the YRA's chief ecologist, said.
The YRA began its Yarkon Bleak preservation efforts in 1999, when it was discovered that only a few hundreds of them were left in the river. As part of the project, which entailed joint efforts by the YRA, Tel Aviv University and the Israel Nature and National Parks Service, several dozens of them were transferred to special pools in the university's zoological park, to allow them to safely breed.
The fish was first reintroduced to the river in 2002, but the endeavor met only partial success. A second attempt, made in 2005 in the upper part of the river, met greater success and the fish were able to breed.
According to Raz, the project owes some of its success to the government's decision to allocate water quotas to river preservation, which helped improve water quality.