Published December 02, 2012, 06:30 AM

OUTDOOR FACTOIDS: Five new species of freshwater darters to be named after U.S. presidents

No disrespect to lawmakers here, but there are people out there who consider all politicians to be kind of, well … fishy. That’s now true in the literal sense after the recent action to name five new species of freshwater darters after four U.S. presidents and a vice president: Theodore Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Barack Obama... and more.

No disrespect to lawmakers here, but there are people out there who consider all politicians to be kind of, well … fishy.

That’s now true in the literal sense after the recent action to name five new species of freshwater darters after four U.S. presidents and a vice president: Theodore Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Barack Obama.

All of the new species belong to Etheostoma, a genus of small freshwater fish in the family Percidae known for beautiful color patterns.

According to Richard Mayden, a professor in the Saint Louis University Department of Biology, and Steven Layman of Geosyntec Consultants, the species were named after former or current U.S. leaders who have worked to promote conservation and environmental protection.

Mayden and Layman authored a paper describing the newly found species in the Bulletin of the Alabama Museum of Natural History,

Common names of the new species and their scientific names are as follows:

Highland darter (Etheostoma teddyroosevelt).

Bluegrass darter (Etheostoma jimmycarter).

Beaded darter (Etheostoma clinton).

Cumberland darter (Etheostoma gore).

Spangled darter (Etheostoma obama).

According to biologists, the new darters live in waters in Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Kansas and Oklahoma. Walleyes and perch also are members of the Percidae family, which would make them distantly related to the newfound species.

— Herald staff report

Five endangered whooping cranes arrived the day after Thanksgiving on their wintering grounds at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Wakulla County, Fla. The cranes are the 12th group to be guided by ultralight aircraft from central Wisconsin to the Gulf coast of Florida. The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, an international coalition of public and private organizations, is conducting the reintroduction project in an effort to restore the endangered species to part of its historic range in eastern North America.

There now are 115 whooping cranes in the wild in eastern North America thanks to the partnership’s efforts.

“This is the earliest the birds have arrived at St. Marks, and we are thrilled to have them here so soon,” Terry Peacock, refuge manager at St. Marks, said. “I was in the blind at the pen site to watch the birds arrive. I just have to say that it never gets old watching the birds come to the refuge. It was as touching this time as it was the first time.”

In addition to the five birds led south by the ultralights, six cranes are making their first southward migration as part of the partnership’s Direct Autumn Release program. The DAR cranes were hatched and raised by biologists with the International Crane Foundation, a project partner. The six birds were released in the company of older cranes from whom the young birds learn the migration route south.

Whooping cranes were on the verge of extinction in the 1940s. Today, there only are about 600 birds in existence, about 445 of them in the wild. Aside from the partnership birds, the only other migratory population of whooping cranes nests at Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta and winters at Arkansas NWR on the Texas Gulf Coast. Occasional sightings of the rare birds also have been reported in North Dakota.

To report whooping crane sightings, visit the WCEP whooping crane observation webpage at fws.gov/midwest/whoopingcrane/sightings/sightingform.cfm.

— Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership

National Get Outdoors Day 2013 is scheduled for June 8, the American Recreation Coalition announced this week.

The coalition is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that provides a voice for recreation interests to ensure their participation in government policymaking on issues such as public land management.

The June 2013 event will mark the sixth year of a partnership effort by hundreds of government agencies, recreation and healthcare businesses and nonprofit organizations to introduce America’s youth to the healthy fun of America’s Great Outdoors. Events will be held at more than 200 sites in urban centers, state and local parks and other places, and the U.S. Forest Service will waive many recreation fees on Get Outdoors Day in national forests covering 192 million acres.

Last year, a record 138 official sites in 37 states were part of Get Outdoors Day, the signature event of Great Outdoors Month. Last year, President Obama and all 50 governors issued official proclamations declaring June as Great Outdoors Month, touting the fun, health and economic benefits of outdoor recreation.

Info: nationalgetoutdoorsday.org.

— American Recreation Coalition

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