Re: NANFA-L-- I'm blogging fish; really.

Mysteryman (
Thu, 27 Apr 2006 10:10:32 -0700

Derek Parr wrote:

> well.. I've certainly garnered a sense of paranoia occasionally from
> this list.. but I've yet to hear any stories of any horrible things
> happening as a result of collecting. From what I've seen, all the
> real world dangers have come from habitat loss and pollution. I for
> one, would love to hear some stories of non-game fish being decimated
> or hurt by collecting in your region. It would fill this obvious void
> in my knowledge on the subject.

Oh, it's happened, alright, and could all too easily happen again.
I know the incident Chip mentioned, and it was a crying shame.
We had a big scare some two & a half years ago when it seemed that an
entire "welaka hole" was decimated by Europeans looking to satisfy an
entire continent's demand, although details are fuzzy on that one. The
Flame Chubs Bruce mentioned can't withstand a collecting onslaught, and
my own favorite Flagfin hole now drains into a new bass pond, thereby
trapping the fish between being captured by humans on one end or eaten
by bass on the other. That population would be as good as doomed if word
got out about it; you can ask Todd-- it's awfully convenient & easy to
collect them there, and it wouldn't take many seine hauls to wipe them
out but good. That's only a single example, of course. There are no
doubt oodles of little sites like that in every state which may not-in-
first glance seem-in-all endangered but really are in big trouble, and
it wouldn't take much to ruin them.
Can you imagine what would happen if a site for something critically
rare & highly desirable got blabbed all over the web, especially if it
was a very limited habitat area? Take the Barrens Topminnow, for
example. This fish would be in big trouble if many people knew where to
find the three tiny little places which hold them, legal protection or
not. It's a gorgeous fish, and some people will simply have to have
some, including those ( like me, I admit ) who think that domestication
is the best hope for the permanent survival of that species. Some
habitats like theirs are so critically endangered that the very thought
of a hands-off approach seems insane to such persons, but their efforts
to do some good only wind up doing more harm. ( see? I get it. ) Many
darters, like Rush & Vermillion darters for example, are also limited to
some extraordinarily small locales which simply couldn't withstand any
collection pressure.
Speaking of uber-rare, did you guys know that there are cavefish in
extremely southern Alabama, species unknown? Just one little cave holds
them, and one little cave is easy to ruin. A tiny spring near my house
has an unknown Cyprinella shiner in it that's not in any book. I don't
know how Scott Metee missed it since he included a photo of the spring
itself in his book. It's not a remarkable fish in any way, but if it
was, it could be wiped out in no time flat if even only a dozen people
decided to collect it. That gorgeous glossy jet-black & gold "Black
Widow" crayfish I mentioned here a few times is apparently lost forever
now that the mouth to it's cave has been filled in by county road crew
doing repairs to a nearby bridge damaged by the hurricane. ( At least I
managed to preserve & store a single specimen-in-Troy University ) If
people had found out about it in any number, it wouldn't have taken much
to wipe them out anyway. Naturally I'm going to-in-least try to find
some more in the surviving creek.
Call it paranoia if you will, but paranoia isn't necessarily a bad
thing. The danger is very real, and we make our own luck. Being careful
makes for better luck every time.
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