After disappearing for 50 years, the pearl darter are being reintroduced to the Pearl River. This tiny fish species has been missing from the southern waters for many decades, with numerous external factors as the suspects. Wildlife experts believe that oil and gas development, agricultural runoff, urban pollution, and dam construction are all detrimental to the livelihood of the Pearl River, and the probable causes for the fish’s disappearance. Even though climate change and pollution has contributed to the destruction of various water bodies, and will continue to persist, this river is under assistance from the Clean Water Act of 1972. Officials state that the river has shown promising signs to aid that reintroduction.
"This is the biggest win of my career as a biologist so far. It's very seldom that you get to restore a species back to its historic range. As a biologist, when you go to school, this is the type of day you're all dreaming about," stated U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist, Matt Wagner.
The specific site of the reintroduction is the most biodiverse spot within the Pearl River. There's more species within this particular site than any other spot, with a lot of them being sensitive species. Sensitive species are a type that are not tolerant of external factors such as pollutants or aggressive nature changes. The current increased presence of these species within the river gives a promising sign that the reintroduction will be successful. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the pearl darter on the threatened species list in 2017. This fish is a bottom dweller and was named after its iridescent coloring around the gills.
Officials say that there will be regular sampling of the waters to see how the species is surviving. Their hope is that upon their survival, the fish will spread throughout the Pearl River system, and optimistically be delisted from the Endangered Species Act.