This endangered fish is only found in Kentucky and nowhere else in the world

Anita Durairaj

A species of fish called the Kentucky Arrow Darter is only found in Kentucky and nowhere else in the U.S. or the rest of the world. Darters are commonly found in mountain streams and there are more than 200 species found in North America. However, the Kentucky Arrow Darter is only unique to Eastern Kentucky.

It is a tiny fish only about 5 inches long and it is yellow and green in color.

The fish is found in streams in ten Kentucky counties including Breathitt, Clay, Harlan, Jackson, Knott, Lee, Leslie, Owsley, Perry, and Wolfe counties.

It is currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Kentucky arrow darter population has drastically decreased due to water pollution from surface coal mining. It is reportedly one of the top 10 species in the U.S. that are most threatened because of fossil fuels.

In 2016, the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect the fish in an agreement with the Center of Biological Diversity. In addition to protecting the fish, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has also chosen to protect 248 miles of streams which have served as a habitat for this fish. The darter was once found in 68 streams and is now only found in 33 streams.

Efforts have been made to reintroduce the Kentucky arrow darter fish into streams within its natural habitat. The fish have been monitored to ensure that they can regrow their populations.

It remains to be seen if the project to protect the Kentucky arrow darter fish is successful.

Sources: Appalachian Voices, Center for Biological Diversity, The Appalachian Voice, Conservation Fisheries

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