165 catfish fans from all over the world came together at the 4th International L-Number-Days in the H4 Hotel Hannover Messe for three days during the last weekend of October. The organisers of the IG BSSW and Andreas Tanke had planned and organised the event in every last detail. By hobbyists for hobbyists.
Being the main sponsors of the event we also took the opportunity to be on the spot ourselves. After a dinner together the organisers greeted all the participants. Ingo Seidel and Andreas Take were the masters of ceremony. The new head of the IG BSSW, Daniel Konn-Vetterlein, welcomed the participants and wished everyone a lot of fun at the event. For three days all the lectures were simultaneously presented in German and English, so that everyone could follow the specialist subject matter. Discussions between people of different languages were an especial challenge, but the translators (Ingo Seidel, Hans-Georg Evers, Daniel Konn-Vetterlein and Stephan Tanner) managed it all with wit and expertise. A combination of expertise and fun was paramount at all times, so it wasn’t just of interest to the absolute freak. Don’t forget to mark your calendar, so as not to forget the next date in 2017.
There was a group photo of all the speakers and the event team before the keynote speech started. One big family with a shared passion for catfish!
The keynote speech with the subject “The Rio Xingu during the construction of the dam – observed changes and future effects” was given by Leandro Sousa from Brazil. He is a professor at the University of Altamira, which is located directly next to the dam. His job was to document and research any natural change resulting from the dam. The Rio Xingu is overshadowed by a major construction project. The dams Belo Monte and Pimental are threatening the home of many ornamental fish, especially catfish. The Hypancistrus zebra, also known as L046, will very soon only exist in aquariums and no longer in the wild, should the worst come to the worst. The same could happen to the L174, the L082 and some endemic killifish of the island of Arapuja. You can easily imagine that. The water level and the speed of the river systems’ current vary very widely in the course of the year. The dam means that water is retained and some arms of the river run almost dry. The water levels no longer vary in the natural course of the year. The operating company has now made a concession and is attempting to work on the seasonal issue, but the high water level is still significantly below the lowest high water level (during the rainy season) of all yearly recordings. Now that the operating company is aware of the extent, it is promoting projects which will help the survival of the various species. That’s why Leandro has initiated a breeding program on the campus of the UFPA, with an aim to promote reproduction of the endangered species.
The question we are all asking is: Can the fish adapt? What will happen to the fauna all around the river arms and what can be done to protect the endangered species? Nobody has an answer for this yet, neither the scientists nor the operator of the dams.