A wide range of habitats exist along the Yarqon River and its banks and these habitats may be distinguished from one another by various physical conditions including the water quality, and the depth and velocity of the water flow. These differences influence, among other things, the nature of the vegetation in the water and along the banks, as well as the animals populating the different sections of the river.
Improving water quality in the channel
The Yarqon River Authority carries out various activities in the river channel to help advance the river’s self-purification processes. Small weirs and riffles were built to aerate the water and create river sections with variable water flow velocities. Moreover, work is being carried out to strengthen the banks and thereby prevent they’re collapsing, and also to create buffer zones along the river banks. Improvements to the various habitats are also integrated into these works. The works carried out to stabilize the banks are quite unique as they have been adapted to suit the special conditions prevailing in the Yarqon, mainly in the saline section. These activities include restoring vegetation in the Qana River and in long stretches of the Yarqon to create a green barrier separating the river from agricultural activities.
In 2002 an additional pond was excavated in close proximity to the water lilies pond in order to protect it against accidental pollution and also to enlarge the area of humid habitats upstream in the Yarqon. Diverse species of aquatic plants were transferred to the pond and the spontaneous development of additional aquatic plants and plants growing along the banks was monitored.
Fish and Aquatic Animals
Nile soft-shelled turtles (trionychoidea) inhabit all sections of the Yarqon River, including saline stretches, while marsh turtles are found in those sections where drinking water and effluents flow. Fish also live in three sections of the river and among them are found the Yarqon bleak fish (Acanthobrama telavivensis) in a clean stretch and these are unique to the Yarqon River, as well as catfish, carp, eels, St. Peter’s fish (tilapia) and mosquito fish (gambusia affinis). In the Yarqon River’s middle sector live mostly carp, catfish, St. Peter’s fish, eels and mosquito fish. In the Yarqon’s saline section there are large quantities of mullet, eels, and St. Peter’s fish close to the river banks in those areas with a stone base and good hiding places. In addition to the turtles and fish one can find various species of invertebrates, insects, beetles, and worms.
Water fowl and birds
Many species of waterfowl and birds live along the river; some of them are resident while others only winter there. Among the stable bird population, the most common are the moorhens, night herons, and pied kingfisher. Several kinds of heron winter in the Yarqon and among them are the great white heron, little egret, gray heron, cormorant and common kingfisher.
In the area around the river, inside the vegetation and the trees, crows, falcons and many songbirds can be seen. In this area, a number of invasive species have been found and the most prevalent is the common Myna, a type of starling (Acridotheres trists (, which according to some experts came from the Safari Park. The parakeet, which is a kind of parrot, is also an invasive species which has spread all over the country.
The principal larger mammals living along the different sections of the Yarqon are nutria which feed off plants growing in the river water and along the banks. The water lilies pond owes its name to the fact that the nutrias devour most of the other immersed vegetation, including the blue water lilies which grew here in the past, so that only the yellow water lilies remained.
An undefined population of jungle cats (felis chous furax) live in upstream areas of the river and occasionally porcupine quills may be spotted. Recently there is a growing population of jackals and foxes along the river, including in the urban sections.
All along the river grow many eucalyptus trees, willows, wild raspberry bushes, large lythrum plants, bulrushes, knotweeds and various kinds of papyrus plants. The unwanted castor-oil plant (ricinus) may also be found along long stretches of the river.
During the summer months the river’s water surface in those areas to the west of the Geha highway is covered by a thick layer of water lentils (lemna), which form part of the Yarqon River’s natural system.