The “Smallest” Fish Make a Long Migration

May 23, 2014

New video from WCS Conservationist Guido Mirando offers the first documentation of great schools of obscure fish called chipi chipi making their migratory journey upstream.

Researchers from WCS’s Bolivia Program have documented a natural phenomenon new to science: the mass migration of a tiny, obscure fish—the pencil catfish, known locally as the “chipi chipi,” meaning “smallest” in the local Takana language.

The announcement coincides with World Fish Migration Day—a one-day global initiative aimed at creating public awareness on the importance of open rivers and migratory fish—on Saturday, May 24.

WCS Conservationist Guido Miranda, who captured the footage of the tea-colored Beni River virtually overflowing with millions of one-inch juvenile chipi chipis, is still investigating the roughly 350-kilometer (or 217-mile) migration, but it appears that the sub-adult fish swim upstream to complete their development. A few weeks later, the next generation of fish makes its way back downstream.

Read the press release >>

Read more about World Fish Migration Day in a National Geographic op-ed by Julie Kunen, Executive Director of WCS's Latin America and Caribbean Program >>

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