San Marcos fish among 21 species now extinct in the US

San Marcos gambusia not seen since 1983

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

SAN MARCOS – A San Marcos fish that has not been seen since the 1980s is now extinct.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday that it is delisting the San Marcos gambusia and 20 other species from the Endangered Species Act due to extinction.

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USFWS officials proposed removing the fish and other species from the ESA in 2021, as their populations were likely already extinct or in very low numbers.

At the time, USFWS officials said help from the ESA came too late and the species no longer required protection.

In a news release on Monday, Service Director Martha Williams said this should act as a “wake-up call on the importance of conserving imperiled species.”

“As we commemorate 50 years of the Endangered Species Act this year, we are reminded of the Act’s purpose to be a safety net that stops the journey toward extinction,” Williams said. “The ultimate goal is to recover these species, so they no longer need the Act’s protection.”

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.

Here are the 21 species being delisted due to extinction:

Species nameFoundListedLast confirmed sighting
Little Mariana fruit bat (mammal)Gaum19841968
Bachman’s warbler (bird)FL, SC19671980s
Bridled white-eye (bird)Guam19841983
Kauai akialoa (bird)HI19671960s
Kauai nukupuu (bird)HI19701899
Kauaʻi ʻōʻō (bird)HI19671987
Large Kauai thrush (bird)HI19701987
Maui ākepa (bird)HI19701988
Maui nukupuʻu (bird)HI19701996
Molokai creeper (bird)HI19701963
Po`ouli (bird)HI19752004
San Marcos gambusia (fish)TX19801983
Scioto madtom (fish)OH19751957
Flat pigtoe (mussels)AL, MS19871984
Southern acornshell (mussels)AL, GA, TN19931973
Stirrupshell (mussels)AL, MS19871986
Upland combshell (mussels)AL, GA, TN1993mid-1980s
Green-blossom pearly mussel (mussels)TN, VA19841982
Tubercled-blossom pearly
mussel (mussels)
AL, IL, IN, KY, TN, MI, OH, WV19761969
Turgid-blossom pearly mussel (mussels)AL, AR, TN19761972
Yellow-blossom pearly mussel (mussels)AL, TN19851966

About the Authors

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

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