Fish declared locally extinct for 82 years spotted in Ohio River

·2 min read
Fish declared locally extinct for 82 years spotted in Ohio River
ohio wildlife - darter fish
ohio wildlife - darter fish

A longhead dagger fish. (Ohio Division of Wildlife/Facebook)

The longhead darter fish is native to Ohio. It has been declared locally extinct for 82 years, but that declaration was reversed after state wildlife officials announced its crews captured two fish believed to be darters while surveying the Ohio River in the fall.

“Who dis?" reads a recent Facebook post by Ohio Division of Wildlife.

“Believe it or not, it’s a longhead darter. Why are we so excited? This striking creature, native to Ohio, was thought to be extirpated from the state. Fortunately for the longhead darter and for those of us concerned, this species is not extirpated in the Buckeye State.”

An "extirpated" species is defined as locally, but not globally, extinct. Longhead darters are present in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

But across all states, the fish is considered a threatened species.

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"Throughout its range, this fish is uncommon and the American Fisheries Society lists the longhead darter as threatened in all states where it occurs," New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says on its website.

"The distribution and abundance of this darter is restricted by its requirements for clear waters with gravel and boulder bottoms."

Speaking with the Cincinatti Inquirer, John Navarro, the administrator of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife aquatic stewardship program, said he thinks the fish are making a "comeback" in the Ohio River, courtesy of pollution regulations that introduced with the 1972 Clean Water Act.

Navarro says the darters may have evaded detection in the Ohio River because the water quality was poor in the past, forcing them to congregate in areas outside of the rocky pools they prefer.

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