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Maryland Darter Etheostoma sellare


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Maryland Darter
© Jim Williams/U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Family: Percidae, Perches and Darters view all from this family

Description To 3 1/2" (8.4 cm). Paler color of upperside interrupted by four prominent dark brown to black saddles. Small dark spot behind each eye. Fins large. Lateral line complete.

Endangered Status The Maryland Darter is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Maryland, where it was last seen in a single small creek in Hartord County. This is said to be the world’s rarest fish (indeed, it may even be extinct), and it is Maryland’s only endemic (found only there and nowhere else in the world) vertebrate. Its decline can be attributed to its very strict habitat requirements. It lives in streams at the transition point between the uplands and the coastal plain. As the region was developed over the last three centuries, this habitat was lost, and the fish is apparently unable to adapt to different habitat. The Wildlife and Heritage Division of the Department of Natural Resources has implemented the Maryland Darter Recovery Plan, and is working on protecting the entire watershed of the Maryland Darter’s last known home stream, Deer Creek.

Habitat The fall line of streams, where uplands flatten out to plain.

Range Harford County, Maryland.