Fish Believed To Be Extinct in Ohio Found Alive After 82 Years

A fish long believed to be extinct in Ohio for 82 years has been rediscovered in the state, government wildlife officials proudly declared.

The small longhead darter was thought to have been last captured in the Buckeye State in 1939. For decades the species was considered extirpated in Ohio, meaning the fish was extinct locally but could be found in other locations.

But the Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODW) declared the plucky little fish was no longer extinct in the state after two were captured in the Ohio River in the fall.

In a Facebook post shared on January 6, the ODW said: "Who dis [this]? 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. That was until fish management crews captured two this fall during Ohio River electrofish bass surveys.

"These were the first captures in Ohio since 1939 when Milton B. Trautman captured seven in the Walhonding River, a principal tributary of the Muskingum River in east-central Ohio."

Longhead darters can be identified by their bright olive-yellow scales and the dark spot at the base of their tail fins. They can reach 4.5-5 inches in length and are considered to be a small to medium-sized fish.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the longhead darter is now known to be present in Ohio, Tennessee, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina.

The DEC said the fish is "uncommon" and is considered "threatened in all states where it occurs." The longhead darter's distribution is restricted by its need for clear water that has gravel and boulder bottoms.

While little is known about longhead darters, biologists believe they spawn in the spring between March and May.

There is a constant struggle to maintain healthy animal populations across the globe, with many species facing extinction.

In October 2021, the slaughter of 15 giant tortoises put the future of the species under serious threat.

The Galápagos Conservancy said the discovery was "shocking" and that while 13 of the tortoises had been dead for an indeterminate amount of time, two had been recently killed.

Giant tortoises like those on the Galápagos islands are a historically threatened species due to the exploitation of the islands for food and materials during the 18th and 19th centuries.

A national park was created on Isabela Island in 1959 and, at first, led to a decline in the hunting of the tortoises. In 1990, officials found a resurgence of illegal killing and hunting of the animals, mainly in the southern part of the island.

A photo of a longhead darter
Image of a longhead darter. The fish was believed to be extinct in Ohio for decades. ODW