Nation & World

Little-known fish not seen in Ohio since 1939 has suddenly resurfaced, the state says

The longnose darter fish was believed to be extinct in the state of Ohio, but two were found recently during a survey of bass in the Ohio River. 
The longnose darter fish was believed to be extinct in the state of Ohio, but two were found recently during a survey of bass in the Ohio River.  Ohio Division of Wildlife photo

An obscure fish known as the longhead darter was found recently in the Ohio River and wildlife experts are stunned.

The species was believed to have vanished from the state’s rivers and streams over 80 years ago.

“Why are we so excited? ... These were the first captures in Ohio since 1939 when Milton B. Trautman captured seven in the Walhonding River,” the Ohio Division of Wildlife reported Jan. 6.

“This striking creature, native to Ohio, was thought to be extirpated from the state.”

The term “extirpated” means the species is believed extinct (in Ohio), but may still survive in neighboring states.

No one knows for sure, because there is “little historical information” on the status of longhead darters in the country, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Throughout its range, this fish is uncommon and the American Fisheries Society lists the longhead darter as threatened in all states where it occurs,” the department says.

Ohio officials say two longhead darters were captured “this fall during Ohio River electrofishing bass surveys.”

The division did not say what became of the two fish captured in the Ohio River.

Longhead darters grow to about 4 inches and “have a series of black blotches down their side that are connected by a broad lateral stripe,” the state says.

At least nine different species of fish are believed to be extirpated in Ohio, including the alligator gar, the state says.

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.
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