Wild Egypt - The Nile Adventure - 3


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Well, we certainly are seeing a lot of birds today. But that's not surprising, considering how many different types of birds there are in Egypt. Egypt is a bird-lover's paradise, especially near the Nile. And the Nile, like any other body of water, has some other tenants: fish! There are over a hundred species of fish in the Nile, though most of them are small, minnow-like fish that many of the birds live on. We'll take a look at three of the larger fish found in the Nile in just a bit.

The equally beautiful city of Aswan and the Nile River


A gaggle of Greater Flamingoes wintering in Egypt


And here they are, mobbing the camera. Now stop making jokes about my front lawn. You'll note that the color is different from the Ibis, making them easy to tell apart. That's because the Scarlet Ibis' color is natural plumage, while a Flamingo's color is the result of eating tiny shrimp that literally turn them pink if they eat enough of them. The true color of a Flamingo is white, and many Flamingoes seen in Egypt are only a very pale pink, as brine shrimp are only found in a few Egyptian lakes. Flamingoes are not native to Egypt, but they migrate here every winter.


The Flamingo feeds by "skimming" its beak in the water and picking up the sludge at the bottom. Then they use their large tongues to squeeze out the water. What is left is a healthy (for Flamingoes at least) soup of tiny crustaceans and mollusks, as well as waterborne insects and even plankton if the Flamingoes happen to be nesting in a salt-water area (Egypt's Lake Qarun is a perfect place for them).


Red-Tailed Nile Catfish


Well, here's a good picture of one of the types of catfish in the Nile. The Red-Tailed Nile Catfish is closely related to other catfish all over the world. It is a bottom-feeder, that is, it lives in the mud on the bottom of the Nile and eats things that filter down from above The long "whiskers" allow it to find its way in the darkness.


Catfish are not often fished for in Egypt, as they are regarded by many of the cultures there to be unsuitable for food. As a result, there are a lot of catfish in the Nile, especially in Lake Nasser where the dam holds back the mud and silt that the catfish like to live in.

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The picture to the left is of the beautiful city of Aswan and the Nile flowing by in front of it. Every year, hundreds of people visit Egypt and take tours down the Nile on luxury boats, much like the Pharaohs did thousands of years ago. The Nile has always been an important resource in Egypt. It is used to irrigate crops and water livestock, it is the is one of the easiest methods of travel throughout Egypt, and for ages, it has held back the desert, giving life to the valley that would might otherwise have been nothing but sand.


We conclude our Nile journey with some fish, and the two most colorful citizens of the Nile.



The brightly-colored Scarlet Ibis parades for the camera


Here we have the last Ibis we'll see on our tour, the magnificent Scarlet Ibis. Yes, it does look a lot like a Flamingo. But apart from the color, they look nothing alike. The Flamingo is much larger, has a longer neck and legs, and a shorter bill than the Scarlet Ibis. And yes, Flamingoes are found in Egypt. Quite a few of them, in fact.



Two Tilapia and a Nile Catfish share an aquarium


I'm sorry I couldn't find a picture of these fish in their natural habitat, but it does get very dark down where these fish are found. The Tilapia (the two silvery fish are Tilapia) is also known as the Egyptian Mouth-Breeder. It's an unusual nickname, but it's for good reason. When Tilapia are born, the parents incubate the tiny fry by holding them (and there are lots of the little ones!) in their mouths. They take turns alternatively holding the fry and eating, that way they don't accidentally swallow any during dinner!


The Tilapia has been fished in Egypt for hundreds of years, and even the modern-day Egyptians who fish for a living often use much the same methods as their ancestors did. The Tilapia is such a popular food fish that it is sent all over the world to stock lakes, even in America.


Nile Perch


This beautiful fish, on the other hand, is fished for food quite often. This is the Nile Perch. Like other species of perch, they can grow quite large very quickly, and so have been a source of food for the Egyptians for centuries, much like the Tilapia above.