|The Spring Pygmy Sunfish (Elassoma alabamae). Photo by Bernie Kuhajda.|
|Beaverdam Spring, ideal habitat for the Spring Pygmy Sunfish. Photo by Bernie Kuhajda.|
|Ineffective silt fences along Beaverdam Creek that contribute to the siltation of critical habitat for the Spring Pygmy Sunfish. Photo by Mike Sandel.|
USFWS had determined that listing the Spring Pygmy Sunfish as threatened rather than endangered is warranted primarily due to conservation measures in a candidate conservation agreement with assurances (CCAA) between USFWS and Belle Mina Farm, Ltd. This company owns Beaverdam Spring, by far the largest spring in the system. However this CCAA gives no protection to the majority of the critical habitat and can be terminated at any moment. The Spring Pygmy Sunfish is restricted to one creek system, is totally reliant on groundwater, and there is an imminent threat of urbanization/industrialization within the recharge area of the aquifer. This led the Southeastern Fishes Council to consider the Spring Pygmy Sunfish as one of the Desperate Dozen, one of the 12 most critically imperiled fish species in the southeast (http://www.sefishescouncil.org/proceedings/sfcpro51.pdf). I personally think the Spring Pygmy Sunfish should be listed as endangered based on the best available science.