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wacawsil.gif - image of waccamaw silverside

Waccamaw Silverside in North Carolina


Menidia extensa

STATUS: Threatened

DESCRIPTION: The Waccamaw silverside, also known as skipjack or glass minnow, is a small (growing to about 2.5 inches), slim, almost transparent fish with a silvery stripe along each side. Its body is laterally compressed, the eyes are large, and the jaw is sharply angled upward. This fish spawns from April through June, but spawning reaches its peak when water temperatures are between 68 and 72 Fahrenheit. Fully developed larvae form small isolated schools by early May. No parental care of the young has been noted. The silversides reach sexual maturity by the following spring, spawn, and then shortly thereafter most of the adults die off. A few may survive a second winter.

RANGE AND POPULATION LEVEL: Known only from Lake Waccamaw and the upper Waccamaw River in Columbus County, North Carolina, the silverside is found in the upper Waccamaw River only during periods of high water and is not a permanent resident. Lake Waccamaw (not to be confused with the town of Lake Waccamaw) is the property of the State of North Carolina and is administered by the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Community Development's Division of Parks and Recreation. The species' population is estimated to be in the millions.

HABITAT: Lake Waccamaw is a natural lake with an approximate surface area of 8,934 acres and an average depth of 7.5 feet. Although it is fed by acidic swamp streams, the lake has a virtually neutral composition. This neutral condition, unusual among North Carolina's coastal plain lakes, is believed to be caused by the buffering effect of the calcareous Waccamaw Limestone formation, which underlies the lake and is exposed on the north shore. The Waccamaw silverside inhabits open water throughout the lake, where schools are commonly found near the surface over shallow, dark-bottomed areas.

Species Distribution from known occurrences. Species may occur in similar habitats in other counties.Green counties indicate observed within 20 years. Yellow counties indicate an obscure data reference to the species in the county. Red counties indicate observed more than 20 years ago.

waccamawsilv.gif - North Carolina county map with species location

Species Location Map based on information provided by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program.
For additional information regarding this Web page, contact David Rabon, in Raleigh, NC, at david_rabon@fws.gov

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