MuseumTerres de l’Ebre
MIGRATOEBRE. A river which is full of life
A trip along the river from the estuary to Riba-roja
With this exhibition, which will take place through 2016 and 2017, we give you the Terres de l’Ebre route along the great Iberian river Ebro, which is still home to fish populations and other fauna and flora species which are valuable on a worldwide scale.
The “MIGRATOEBRE exhibition. A river which is full of life”, was created by the Museu de les Terres de l’Ebre (Museum) at the request of Project promoters of Life MigratoEbre: the Department of Sustainability and the Environment, IDECE, Ebro Delta Natural Park, the Fundación Catalunya la Pedrera, l’IRTA and the Museo del Ter. The display was created to explain what Life Migratoebre is and what it does, whilst at the same time give an insight into the history and ecology of the last stretch of the river Ebro as well as the fish living there, with special attention to sturgeon, lamprey and eels.
The survival of species in the Ebro which are as emblematic and valuable on a worldwide scale like sturgeon and lamprey, two living fossils, the eel which takes a transoceanic journey across the Atlantic to reproduce, or the twait shad which has been without doubt the most popular fish in Terres de l’Ebre for centuries are a project for the future. Regarding the recovery plan for the Ebro as a symbol of identity and environmental diversity in our region, it depends on present generations whether or not we can maintain these four species in a new context guided by a model of sustainable development, which must be preserved as one of the main strategic objectives, a river which is full of life (natural, cultural, leisure…)
This exhibition includes texts, photographs, large illustrations, original objects and models which are all complemented by two audiovisual pieces. It can be seen in Amposta until 9th October, and then it will travel to different towns in Terres de l’Ebre like Tortosa, Flix, Deltebre, Sant Carles de la Ràpita, L’Ametlla, Móra d’Ebre, Sant Jaume d’Enveja, Xerta and Tivenys. The exhibition and its surrounding dissemination and participation were established to make people aware of, and bring about this collective project, which is being financed by the European Union Life programme and the Generalitat de Catalunya government.
The aim of the Life MigratoEbre Project is to recover the populations of these four species of migratory fish in the last stretch of the Ebro river in a viable and healthy state, whilst at the same time improve connectivity in the Catalonian stretch of the river by adapting obstacles and making them more permeable for fish, for example the Xerta-Tivenys dam, the one in Ascó and that of Flix. To achieve these aims, Life MigratoEbre is including a series of actions like reintroducing species which have disappeared, controlling the fish populations, improving habitats, building passageways and carrying out advertising campaigns to make local people aware and become involved in the project by creating a network of volunteers.
The education and tourist services at Terres de l’Ebre Museum, suggest you take a guided tour of the exhibition which is sure to surprise you, as well as one of the routes along the Ebro river, perhaps one of the most emblematic natural areas in Terres de l’Ebre, not only because of its identifying characteristics but also because of the biodiversity hidden in its islands and oxbow lakes, but above all within its waters. For more information: www.museuterresebre.cat, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 977 702 954
MIGRATORY FISH AT THE EBRO
At present the sturgeon is considered to be an extinct species in the Ebro, but its presence here has been recorded since the Arab era and information from mediaeval times is testimony the fact that it occupied a large area going from the estuary right up to Tudela (Navarra) 490km away. Adults reproduced in the spring following the river up to different dams, in areas with a pebbly, stony bed and strong current.
The sturgeon population in the Ebro deteriorated after the Xerta-Tivenys dam was built in the fifteenth century, as this considerably limited and reduced the area for this species. There are different causes for its disappearance in the twentieth century, but these have to be in a worldwide context: apart from the aforementioned barriers we must also consider the loss in the quality of water in rivers and the overfishing of reproductive females for their caviar. The last time an adult specimen was caught higher up in the Ebro River was in Tivenys in 1960, and the last young specimen to be caught was in 1970 at Sant Antoni Island (Deltebre).
The twait shad
The twait shad once abundant in the Ebro became an object of great economic and commercial interest to fisheries, but in the second half of the twentieth century they practically disappeared. Over recent years, since 2005, breeding populations have started to return to the river, and the twait shad is now a regular presence although in low density.
The reappearance of the twait shad is linked to a relative improvement in the quality of the water which favours the entrance and survival of migratory species. Guaranteeing populations means maintaining a minimum flow of water during the migration period and preserving environmental values of the river. Likewise, the future of this species in the Ebro depends on the permeability of barriers which were built along the final stretch of the river, which would duplicate the current area giving an additional 59km, and above all increase areas which are suitable for reproduction.
Lamprey have never been one of the most abundant species in the Ebro, and its presence has become more and more scarce, to the point of actually being considered extinct. Since 1985 only 32 specimens have been recorded and more than 90% of these were some time ago, in the nineties. Latest news on the lamprey in our geographical area corresponds to one specimen parasiting a mullet in Bassa de les Olles lagoon (L’Ampolla) in 2001 and another found dead on Fangar beach (Deltebre), in 2010.
The eel is a common species at the Ebro, from the estuary up to Azud dam, however higher up numbers are lower, and it is only maintained there because of repopulation on behalf of the Government since 1996. Lower numbers further from an estuary is not exclusive to the Ebro, but this has without doubt been intensified here due to barriers along the valley, and simply by improving their passage, the distribution of this species would benefit immensely.
Out of all the fish in the delta area however, it has become the most widespread, as it is an ambivalent animal capable of tolerating different temperatures and extreme salinity. Nonetheless it seems to prefer habitats with salt water like lagoons, where it is most abundant.