San Marcos fish among the 23 species the US government says are now extinct

San Marcos fish not seen since 1983

San Marcos Gambusia (Gambusia georgei)
San Marcos Gambusia (Gambusia georgei) (Texas Parks & Wildlife Department)

SAN MARCOS – In a rare move, the U.S. government is giving up hope of finding 23 species, including one from San Marcos.

Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced Wednesday that the San Marcos gambusia is one of the 23 species it’s seeking to remove from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to extinction.

USFWS officials say for the 23 species they’re proposing to remove from the list, help from the ESA came too late and that these species no longer require protection under the act because the ESA is meant to “protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.”

The San Marcos gambusia was listed on the ESA in 1980 but its last confirmed sighting was in 1983.

The fish lived in clear spring water coming from the headwaters of the San Marcos River, according to Texas Parks & Wildlife.

Since its inception in 1973 by President Richard Nixon, the ESA has been credited with saving a number of animals, including America’s national animal - the bald eagle.

“With climate change and natural area loss pushing more and more species to the brink, now is the time to lift up proactive, collaborative, and innovative efforts to save America’s wildlife,” said secretary Deb Haaland. “The Endangered Species Act has been incredibly effective at preventing species from going extinct and has also inspired action to conserve at-risk species and their habitat before they need to be listed as endangered or threatened.”

Ohio State University professor Jeremy Bruskotter told Time in 2019 that 99% of the species placed on the ESA have not gone extinct.

Here are the 23 species the USFWS is proposing to remove from the ESA:

  • Bachman’s warbler
Blue-winged Warbler
  • Bridled white-eye (bird)
Bridled White-Eye
  • Flat pigtoe mussel
  • Green-blossom pearly mussel
  • Ivory-billed woodpecker
Male ivory-billed woodpecker (mount, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA). (Flickr)
  • Kauai akialoa (bird)
Akialoa stejnegeri, Bishop Museum, Honolulu
  • Kauai nukupuu (bird)
  • Kauaʻi ʻōʻō (bird)
Kauaioo
  • Large Kauai thrush (bird)
  • Little Mariana fruit bat
Mariana fruit bats, also known as flying foxes or fanihi, are medium-sized bats with dark fur. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
  • Maui ākepa (bird)
  • Maui nukupuʻu (bird)
  • Molokai creeper (bird)
  • Phyllostegia glabra var. lanaiensis (plant)
  • Po`ouli (bird)
Poʻouli
  • San Marcos gambusia (fish)
San Marcos Gambusia (Gambusia georgei) (Texas Parks & Wildlife Department)
  • Scioto madtom (fish)
  • Southern acornshell mussel
  • Stirrupshell mussel
  • Tubercled-blossom pearly mussel
  • Turgid-blossom pearly mussel
  • Upland combshell mussel
  • Yellow-blossom pearly mussel

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.