Kunimasu, "extinct" fish that existed only in Lake Tazawa have been rediscovered in Lake Saiko of Yamanashi Prefecture. This really caught us by surprise: it overturned the previous belief that the fish had long died out!
The news first arrived yesterday evening. TBS Japanese TV station has reported and it soon spread nationwide! Asahi Shinbun （朝日新聞）has reported it this morning as the front page news as follows:
The Asahi Shinbun: Kunimasu, endemic species to Japan that has been listed on Red List (Red Data Book) of Japanese Ministry of the Environment (MOE), has been found in a lake in Yamanashi Prefecture. A scientific research group of Kyoto University has just announced as verified. 70 years have passed since the species have last seen alive. This is the first time “extinct species” on the national Red List have been rediscovered. Ministry of the Environment has announced that it will review the list.
Kunimasu (Onchorhynchus nerka kawamurae) is originally was endemic species to Lake Tazawa which is said to become as large as 30 cm and had been fished by the locals as a food source. After the channel construction in 1940s that caused influx of acid water to the lake, the fish are said to have been extinguished. It was believed to have been wiped out of the world.
Kunimasu Found in Lake Saiko
Kunimasu have been found alive in Lake Saiko, one of the fuji-goko (five lakes near Mt. Fuji) in Yamanashi Prefecture. Nine samples of so-called “kuromasu,” caught by the local fishery industry union workers in March to April earlier this year, were examined by the University research group.
|Professor Nakabou of Kyoto University|
There are only 20 kunimasu samples in the world. Kunimasu has become popular as “maboroshi-no-sakana” (nonexistent fish). In 1990s, Tazawako-machi Tourism Association had posted cash reward of 5,000,000 yen but it was never found.