India’s fantastic freshwater fauna and where to find them

Freshwater ecosystems, treasure troves of biodiversity (Image Source: India Water Portal)
Freshwater ecosystems, treasure troves of biodiversity (Image Source: India Water Portal)
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While the title may sound familiar for Harry Potter fans, this isn’t an article about mythical beasts. You can find several stories on mythical/spiritual beasts in India, but that’s for another article. If you want to find the wild and the weird, you do not need to turn to fantasy. A quick dip in India’s flowing rivers, lakes or caves would reveal some critters which seem to come right out of a sci-fi novel.

India is one of the most mega-diverse countries when it comes to freshwater biodiversity. Approximately, 9.7 percent of the total fauna (animal species) are associated with freshwater ecosystems, several of which are endemic and unique to India. For instance, the Ganga-Brahmaputra system exhibits among the highest richness of large-bodied freshwater species (freshwater mega-fauna) in the world and supports unique and threatened species.

Of the approximately 450 families of freshwater fishes present globally, roughly 41 are represented in India, out of which 25 families contain commercially important fish species. The Western Ghats, a global biodiversity hotspot, alone hosts 288 fish species of which 118 species are endemic.

The Eastern Himalaya, another biodiversity hotspot, contains exceptional freshwater biodiversity and ecosystems that are of vital importance to local and regional livelihoods.

Unknown to most, India is also home to some fascinating freshwater fauna (and flora) found nowhere else in the world. Let’s take a look!

Gollum snakehead (Image Source: Photo by Ralph Britz taken from The NEWS minute, Gollum snakehead fish discovered in Kerala may have lived with the last dinosaurs)

It is at least a 109 million years old, and it once thrived alongside some of the last dinosaurs in the region. This fish was a serendipitous discovery when several individuals were washed out of their aquifer habitat and into a paddy field during the 2018 Kerala floods.

Its aquifer/groundwater habitat is threatened as the region has the highest density of homestead wells in India, almost 50 percent of which run dry during the summer.

Blind Mahseer (Image Source: Photo by Uros Aksamovic taken from The Indian Express, From deep dark Meghalaya cave, explorers bring to light ‘world’s largest’ subterranean fish)


Post By: tridmin