Japan fish thought extinct found
Tokyo - A Japanese salmon species thought to be extinct for 70 years is alive and well in a lake near Mount Fuji, a science professor said on Wednesday.
The black kokanee, or "kunimasu" in Japanese, was thought to have died out in 1940, when a hydroelectric project made the water more acidic in its native lake in northern Akita Prefecture.
Before then, 100 000 eggs were reportedly transported to Lake Saiko but the species was still thought to have died off.
But Tetsuji Nakabo, a professor at Kyoto University, said his team of researchers found the species in Lake Saiko, 500km south of the native lake. He posed with what he said was a fresh specimen for TV cameras and photographers.
"I was really surprised. This is a very interesting fish - it's a treasure. We have to protect it and not let it disappear again," he said.
Nakabo said there were plenty of kunimasu in the lake and the species should be fine if the current environment is maintained. Lake Saiko is in a region popular with tourists for its Fuji views and hot spring baths.
The salmon is still listed as extinct in the public records of the Environment Ministry. Yobukaze Naniwa, an official at the ministry, said Nakabo's claim would be investigated before records are due to be updated in 2012.
Other species, including shellfish and plants, have also been discovered in Japan after being declared extinct, Naniwa said.