Friday, February 28, 2014 by Molly Meserve

What animals do you think of when you think of endangered species? The North Atlantic Right Whale? The Bengal Tiger? What about the Oregon chub?

If this doesn’t sound familiar to you, don’t worry, you haven’t been living under a rock. The Oregon chub however, is a minnow that lives within the muddy marshes of Oregon’s Willamette River Valley, measuring a mere 7.5 cm long (3 in.). Farmers in Oregon who have them living in their ponds sometimes can’t even tell they are there.


February 4, 2014 marked a first for fish; it was the day that the Oregon chub moved off of the Endangered Species List! This is the first time a fish has been removed from the list for reasons other then extinction.


How did this happen do you ask? Well, the success of the Oregon chub is an example of group cooperation at its best. The chub was placed on the Endangered Species List in 1993 after its population had dropped to less than 1,000 fish. The valleys they inhabited were drained for agriculture and many non-native fish had been released making it hard for these little minnows to survive.


State biologists and farmers teamed up and slowly brought the chub back to its current 150,000-population estimate by using the “chub-in-a-tub” method. The endangered minnows were moved into 21 tubs (aka. ponds) that were 2 meters deep (6 ft.). These ponds have incredibly deep mud, perfect for the Oregon chub.


Over the years biologists have surveyed the ponds and counted the tiny minnows to check on their progress. Thankfully the “chub-in-a-tub” method worked and the Oregon chub is off the Endangered Species List.


Even though the Oregon chub is now off the Endangered Species List it is still threatened. These little minnows are important for many reasons. They eat mosquitos and are prey for many fish, birds, and mammals. Ongoing protection and monitoring of this fish will still need to happen to make sure they stay happy and healthy in their ecosystem.

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