Re: NANFA-- Maryland darter

Christopher Scharpf (
Sat, 11 Jan 2003 09:16:07 -0400

> I found a site that talks about the Maryland darter (Etheostoma sellare).
> What's unusual is that they called it the "world's rarest fish." Doesn't
> that seem like an odd claim? I don't doubt that it's rare, but how can they
> say that it is the rarest?

Yes, that does seem to be a bit of "gilding the lily" by a well-intentioned
public relations writer. But the Maryland darter may well be the rarest fish
in the U.S. in terms of relative rarity (up there with the Scioto madtom,
perhaps). Very few specimens have ever been recorded and it is surmised that
the fish has always lived with a very small total population. Indeed, the
species may have been "collected to death." It has not been seen since the
late 80s and is presumed extinct. There is some hope that the darter is a
deepwater species living in the Susquehanna, and that its only known
population, known from only one riffle from a Susquehanna tributary, is a
remnant from a flood event. But as far as I know, no one has bothered to
sample the Susquehanna, although I heard plans had been afoot a few years

Collecting in the riffle in which it's been recorded is a big no-no in
Maryland. Snorkeling is allowed but I've never attempted it.

Chris Scharpf
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