Led by the Alex Găvan Foundation, with support from Fauna & Flora, the latest surveys were undertaken as part of wider efforts to bring the asprete back from the brink. It was through Mircea’s research and enthusiasm that Fauna & Flora was introduced to Alex and his foundation some 18 months ago, at which point we worked together to help secure the grant that funded these surveys. We are continuing this fruitful collaboration into next year as further funding becomes available.
Why, we hear you ask, is this little fish such a big deal?
Firstly, it’s important in its own right. Pose that question to any of the scientists and citizens involved in the struggle to save the asprete from oblivion, and you’ll see a glint in their eye that leaves you in no doubt about its importance. Mircea was a member of the expedition team that conducted the surveys and he personally located a number of asprete. Just listen to what this meant to him: “Identifying a dozen asprete specimens in the seven sampling sites, out of a total number of 58 individuals, was for sure one of the biggest highlights of my life. It was a dream come true to work on this extremely rare fish species, which has fascinated me ever since I first learned about it back in college. Every species has the right to survive and thrive and having this endemic fish only in Romania makes it, in my opinion, a national symbol, something that our country can be recognised for worldwide in the biodiversity sector.”
Secondly, the asprete is a diminutive standard bearer for its threatened freshwater habitat. It acts as a fishy flagship for freshwater restoration and local community engagement in freshwater conservation. Given that one quarter of the world’s critically endangered species are freshwater species, that’s a vital contribution to the bigger picture.