International Science — An international research team of ecologists is spending the next five years studying the freshwater world’s largest salmonid, Hucho taimen, in Mongolia. Taimen, which may reach six feet long and weigh over 200 pounds, are known for their tremendous aerial displays when hooked.

Taimen numbers have declined as a result of habitat destruction and overharvest. On a recent expedition to the country, however, the research team discovered 15 adult taimen in a stretch of the Tuul River the size of a football field, a surprising discovery, since large taimen have been thought to be territorial. Normally, only one large taimen occupies a stretch of any river.

This find would be welcome news, as it could mean population size is healthier than thought. On the other hand, such a concentration of large fish leaves this species vulnerable to poaching.

Using radio tags, underwater observation, and local knowledge, the research team hopes to learn more about taimen. Hopefully, the results of this study can be used to promote catch-and-release fishing and ecotourism in this new democracy, meanwhile helping to conserve this threatened species.

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