How Finding A Tiny Fish Gave Scientists Insight Into The Health Of The Rio Grande

Researchers thought the Rio Grande shiner was extinct. But they recently found four.

By Michael MarksMay 17, 2017 3:27 pm

The Rio Grande shiner is more bait than trophy. It’s a silver minnow that grows to about three inches long, and only lives in the Rio Grande. It has no real economic value, nor is it a prized addition to an aquarium.

But finding this fish has been Kevin Conway’s goal since 2014. He’s an associate professor and curator of fishes at Texas A&M University, and part of a team of researchers from Texas A&M and Texas Parks and Wildlife.

The Rio Grande once teemed with these tiny fish, and Conway thought the shiner might be extinct – but it turns out that’s not the case. The team recently collected four Rio Grande shiners from the river.

“We were over the moon. It’s very very rare,” Conway says. “It hasn’t been collected in Texas very much over the last few years.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– What insight this discovery gives into the health of the river

– Why it is important to preserve this fish

– How the research project will proceed, following this discovery


Written by Molly Smith.