The North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission’s Conservation Aquaculture Center in Marion plays an increasingly important role in efforts to recover rare and imperiled fish and mussels. The center meets several needs. It holds what biologists call ark populations – groups of individuals safeguarded in captivity as a way to ensure they don’t go extinct should they disappear from the wild. It’s also a place where the young of imperiled animals can be raised in a safe environment, eventually to be stocked into the wild, helping boost numbers and recover some of our rarest aquatic animals. Among the animals they work with are the federally-protected Appalachian elktoe and Carolina heelsplitter mussels and spotfin chub, a fish.
Photo credit: G. Peeples/USFWS