On Sunday night’s Mighty Rivers, host Jeremy Wade is searching for the endangered huchen or Danube salmon, a large species of freshwater fish in the salmon family.
The huchen calls the Danube basin in Europe home, but unfortunately, the remaining population is threatened by factors that Wade is trying to determine, perhaps a type of pollution or just habitat loss.
“Superficially there’s not much wrong with the Danube here. On close inspection, it looks better suited to huchen than anywhere I’ve seen so far,” says Wade.
“It’s narrower, faster, the water is clearer and almost certainly there’s a higher oxygen content.”
“It’s this kind of water where they are likely to feel at home,” says Wade who describes a pristine part of the Danube where the rocks are visible underneath the water line. This river is by far cleaner than the nightmarish run of the Ganges in India between the industrial tanning town of Kanpur and the holy city of Varanasi.
Huchen thrives in clean fast flowing water sources, their presence is the gold standard that Wade is seeking to determine if the Danube is a healthier river overall.
Examining various spots along the river banks, Wade has found what he thinks is a likely spot to find the huchen congregating.
Overfishing, says Wade, is not the reason why they are disappearing.
He says: “As a species, Huchen have never been commercially exploited. And by law anglers here are required to put them back.”
Wade is determined to catch and release a huchen fish.
Stopping to speak to locals fishing on the Danube, one older gentleman who is fishing for Pike tells him he hasn’t seen any huchen if any at all on the river. Then he gives Wade an “unexpected lead.”
Wade says: “Maybe I am going to find the fish that has been missing on the Danube for thirty years!”
Jeremy Wade’s Mighty Rivers airs Sunday at 9:00 PM on Animal Planet.More: Animal Planet, Jeremy Wade