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Wildlife to See on the River Danube
The Danube River’s winding habitat of ponds, lakes and canals make it one of the most ecologically diverse areas in all of Europe. From Kingfishers to world famous Danube sturgeon, the wildlife of the Danube is one of the river’s biggest attractions for tourists.
From the Danube River’s beginnings in Germany to the rich and plentiful Danube delta in Romania, there are thousands of different species to be found as the river flows throughout Europe. Read on to discover six of the Danube’s best known and more interesting wildlife species.
1. European Kingfisher
One of Europe’s most well known and celebrated birds lives and breeds throughout the Danube region. The European Kingfisher (known as the Eurasian Kingfisher) is found throughout the entire Danube region, from its beginnings in Germany’s Black Forest to the Danube delta of Romania.
Kingfishers are most often seen on the river’s banks, particularly in areas covered in dense forest and woodland. Keep your eyes out for this charming and colourful bird during your next cruise on the Danube.
2. Danube Clouded Yellow Butterfly
With a wingspan of just 44 to 50 millimetres, the Danube Clouded Yellow Butterfly is a difficult creature to spot. Found from the Danube delta all the way to the river’s beginning in Germany, the Clouded Yellow Butterfly is a popular sight on Danube River cruises.
Search for this bright and colourful creature during May, and again during July and August, when it’s most frequently seen around the Danube.
3. Danube Sturgeon
One of the world’s oldest fish species, the Danube Sturgeon is under threat due to a decades-long overfishing campaign in the Danube. Today, these remarkable fish – which can measure up to six metres in length – are a popular sight in certain areas of the Danube.
Prized for its caviar, which is known as ‘black pearls’ to connoisseurs, the Danube Sturgeon is covered in thick natural armour. Experts believe that Danube Sturgeon could have existed for as long as 200 million years.
4. European Pond Turtle
As one of the longest-living species of freshwater turtle, the European Pond Turtle is capable of living for over 100 years in ideal conditions. These incredible animals can be observed on the banks of the Danube, where they nest to lay their eggs.
Unlike many other turtles, the European Pond Turtle is capable of travelling a great distance away from the water. Some turtles have been found over three miles from their wetland home as they search for food sources and nesting locations.
5. Pygmy Cormorant
One of Europe’s most well known migratory birds, the Pygmy Cormorant is visible in many parts of the Danube. Typically, this remarkable bird can be seen to the east of Italy, particularly in countries such as Bulgaria and Romania.
Unlike many other migratory birds, the Pygmy Cormorant tends to avoid living on the Danube River itself. Instead, it can be found in pools and wetlands surrounding the river, where it builds nests from reeds and sticks in order to lay its eggs.
6. Great White Pelican
With a wingspan that can measure over 3.6 metres, the Great White Pelican is truly one of nature’s largest birds. These gigantic birds can be found throughout Asia and Europe, with the greatest European concentrations spread throughout the Danube delta.
The Great White Pelican’s diet consists primarily of fish, making it a common sight on rich and diverse parts of the Danube. Unfortunately, overfishing in some areas has forced many Great White Pelicans to fly a great distance from their homes in order to hunt for river fish.
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