50 years after the establishment of the Endangered Species Act and 50 years after the last Pearl darter was seen in the Pearl River drainage, 39 Pearl darters were reintroduced to their native home!! USFWS's Matt Wagner called this event "the biggest win in his career as a biologist”. Pearl darters, now a federally threatened species, were once present throughout the Strong River and in the main stem of the Pearl as far south as I-10. Until today, the last remaining population lived in the Pascagoula River drainage. USFWS endangered species listing and recovery expert, Matt Wagner and team developed a Pearl darter recovery plan and designated a section of the Strong River as "critical habitat" for the fish. Over the past several years, brood stock from the Bouie River near Hattiesburg, MS, were collected and brought to the Private John Allen National Fish Hatchery in Tupelo for spawning. The Hatchery learned through much trial and error to successfully raise pearl darters and, today, 39 of the darters spawned this spring were released to the river!! The Pearl darter species recovery plan includes monitoring, surveying, and research of the species to ensure it can survive long-term in both the Pascagoula and Pearl River systems to the point that it is no longer threatened. Thank you, USFWS, Private John Allen Fish Hatchery, MDWFP and Strong River Camp for your dedication to biodiversity and conservation and for the opportunity to witness this rare, historic event.
Pearl Riverkeeper is a licensed member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, the largest and fastest growing nonprofit solely focused on clean water.