The poor lighting does not do these guys justice! But, they are spectacular little darters. As with so many darters we have observed spawning, note the head flick the female does just before the spawning act. This is evidently a relatively universal motion that elicits a spawning attempt by the males. The Bluemask Darter, Etheostoma akatulo, is an extremely rare, and federally endangered darter known from just a couple of streams in the upper Cumberland drainages of middle Tennessee. At least one of the populations has been extirpated over the past 50 years. We hope, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission, to be able to one day restore these beautiful little fish into that portion of their former range.

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