A welcome winter visitor, the whooper swan, is back on the Nakdong River Estuary.
About 5 days earlier than last year, two families of seven whooper swans each were reported roosting at the Nakdong River Estuary were October 19. Since then, the number of whooper swans observed increased to 35 on October 22, and to 55 on October 27.
More than 3,000 whooper swans migrate to the Nakdong River Estuary every year, but only about 800 whooper swans were seen last year due to a reduction in aquatic plants, the main food source of the whooper swan. A great deal of precipitation this spring lowered the salinity of the brackish water and the aquatic plant community has recovered as usual therefore this year large numbers of whooper swans are expected to spend the winter in Busan.
At the southern end of Eulsukdo Island, the trail was extended in length to minimize the stress experienced by whooper swans when in close proximity to the tourists, and to allow tourists more locations to observe them closely. Visitors can experience feeding them sweet potato slices as well.
The whooper swan is a large white swan measuring 140–160 centimeters in length. A rare bird, only about 170,000 whooper swans remain in the world and so in Korea they are protected as designated natural monuments.
Whooper swans fly to Korea for the winter and return to the Siberian wetlands in early March. In Korea, they mainly pass the winter months at Upo Swamp, Junam Reservoir, and Yeongam Lake.
A city official said, “The color of the whooper swans’ feathers shows that they are in good health. We are expecting a large numbers of whooper swans here in Busan this year compared with last year.”