If you were poking around in a clear stream in the Ozark
region and saw a tiny fish with an elongated snout and
orange-yellow sides, this could be the find of a lifetime. This
two-and-a-half inch long fish called the longnose darter,
Percina nasuta, is one of Oklahoma's rarest species. It occurs
in very few streams such as the Poteau River and Lee Creek in
eastern Oklahoma and it prefers upland stream habitats that are
free of silt and plentiful in gravel and cobble beds.
The colorful longnose darter has a slender but short body with an orange band and an overall dull yellowish color. In the spring months of April and May, the darters move into the riffle areas of the stream and get ready to spawn. After spawning, the fish move out into the deeper pools of the cool water throughout the summer.
Since the longnose darter is the state's only endangered fish species, it faces many challenges. It is thought to be mostly affected by the construction of impoundments and the alteration of particular habitats. Impoundments alter the natural flow of the river or stream and can drastically affect downstream habitat. The streams where the darters reside are in poor and declining condition therefore making it more difficult for this fish to rebound. There is very little knowledge available on the current status of longnose darters and it is listed in the Oklahoma Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy as a Tier I species of greatest conservation need. Current research efforts are in process to further assess the needs of this endangered but special species.