By Luke Newbold, Contributing Writer
Ahoy, fishermen, Lewis Countians and Middle Tennesseans. The year 2017 has yielded many new things of which we can be proud, including The Last Jedi and the new, now affordable, Tesla. However, less notable and arguably more importantly, there has also been a new species of fish discovered in the Duck River Systems and Whiteoak Creek. The Percina Apina or ‘Tennessee Log-perch’ is a species of darter that has been documented to be found in small rivers and streams in the following counties, Lewis, Lawrence, Hickman, Giles, Wayne, and Humphries. In Lewis County, the fish may be found in Big Swan Creek and the Little Buffalo River. The researchers involved in the discovery are, Thomas J. Near, Jon Michael Mollish, Jeffrey W. Simmons, Maria A. Correa, Edgar Benevides, Richard C. Harrington and Benjamin P. Keck.
According to a TVA report, Simmons said, “The Tennessee Log-perch is a delicate, somewhat finicky species; it’s a sensitive fish that uses its snout to flip small stones on the creek bed to feed on caddisflies and other sensitive aquatic insects. It’s a sight feeder, too. It couldn’t exist in muddy water, or polluted water or streams where excess sediments covered the creek bed, smothering the insects that the fish eat.”
Awareness of this species will, hopefully, provide incentive to keep our middle Tennessee waters clean. TVA also posted that although this fish is not listed as endangered, there are limited numbers due to its distribution in small areas and its necessary water quality. Though declared a new species, the Percina Apina was originally discovered in 1971 and was classified as a variation of the Percina Burtoni. But after recent DNA testing and further examination of the two species’ differentiating scale placement and counts, along with measurable size differences, the Percina Apina was declared a different species.
But fisherman don’t lick your lips just yet, the fish is approximately 4-6 inches in length. That’s hardly a Moby Dick, although Captain Ahab would probably appreciate the discovery of this new water dweller.