“Extinct” Fish Species Reemerges in Ohio After 80+ Years

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Ohio River Fishing
Photo via Christian Schultz/Premier Angler

“Extinct” Fish Species Reemerges in Ohio After 80+ Years

For anglers fishing in Ohio, the state’s Division of Wildlife announced some cool news last week.

A fish species that had been considered “extinct” for over eighty years reemerged in the Ohio River.

The longhead darter – an incredibly rare species in the area – was discovered during the electrofishing survey on the Ohio River by fish management crews. The appearance of the darter in these waters marks the first recorded occurrence since 1939!

While the longhead darter might not be the most highly sought-after species in the country, its appearance in the river certainly makes for an interesting bit of news. To put some perspective on this event, the last time anyone has recorded seeing a local darter would have been during the first year of World War II!

The official release noted that the species was believed to have been “extirpated,” which is a term similar to “extinct,” but it means to “destroy or root out completely.” In a biological sense, however, the term is often used to mean that a species has been extinct locally.

Despite the appearance of two darters, the American Fisheries Society still lists the species as “threatened” everywhere it exists.

What is a Longhead Darter?

You may have seen this story spreading on social media over the past week, but what exactly is a longhead darter?

The longhead darter carries the scientific species name Percina macrocephala. It is a ray-finned sunfish that can be found in bodies of water from New York and North Carolina to Kentucky and Tennessee.

It is part of the genus Percina, which includes over two dozen other species of fish also known as “darters.” It is part of the family Percidae, which includes most notably the luciopercinae (which includes the sander genus of walleye, sauger, etc.) and Percinae (which includes the perca genus that includes yellow perch).

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