Waddling back home
Rare marbled ducks return to rehabilitated Kishon River.
Marbled ducks Photo: Shai Agmon
In the formerly uninhabitable polluted waters of the Kishon River, a record
amount of marbled ducks have returned to the body of water’s rehabilitated
A survey ecologist Shai Agmon recently conducted brought the
Kishon Drainage and Streams Authority the “happy surprise” of 112 of the rarest
ducks in Israel, 79 of which were living in one reservoir alone.
observed the ducks in four valleys of the region, but “because of the intense
heat we didn’t reach all of the reservoirs; the numbers may be even higher,”
according to Agmon.
While the river was once considered the most polluted
in all of Israel – and has even been blamed for a high presence of cancer among
IDF veterans who had trained there – after advanced rehabilitations, the river
has seen a gradual return of wildlife.
The marbled ducks are a very
beautiful and rare type of seafowl, and are in danger of extinction in Israel,
the Kishon Drainage Authority said, citing the Red Book of Vertebrates in
Israel. Up until the middle of the last century, there were hundreds of pairs of
marbled ducks mating in the Upper Galilee region, but in recent years, the
population has all but disappeared.
Information from the Society for the
Protection of Nature in Israel affirmed that the marbled ducks have in recent
years only been a rare resident of the Hula Valley and a winter visitor to
northern Israel. The species, however, had been relatively common in the Hula
Valley at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th
Nesting pairs decreased significantly in recent decades –
globally considered a “vulnerable” species and regionally considered “critically
A professional study conducted in the 1990s for the entire
Jezreel Valley region showed only four ducks present during that time period,
This year, however, was quite a successful nesting season,
with many families observed in various stages of growth, according to the Kishon
The authority is responsible for treating the pooling
basin of the Kishon River, a 1,100-square km. area stretching from Jenin to the
Haifa Bay. It conducts regular drainage checks and performs flooding prevention
in the pooling basin, and also maintains water quality and cultivates the land
around the streams.
The most important ongoing project to the authority
is the Kishon Diversity Project (Haniftol Project), with its workers taking part
in a NIS 220 million national project to divert different portions of the
rehabilitated river in the Haifa Bay region, the authority
Simultaneously, the Kishon Drainage Authority is also working with
the Kishon River Authority and the Environmental Protection Ministry to oversee
a seven-km. by 2.5-meter excavation of contaminated sediments on the riverbed