Press Release
Freshwater Snail Native to Cahaba River is Proposed for Federal Protection 

Contact: Denise Rowell,, 251-656-3490 

A rare snail located in Alabama’s Cahaba River watershed is disappearing. 

The once abundant oblong rocksnail is on the brink of extinction and needs federal protection, as it is now only found in 11 percent of its historical range. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the unique snail as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

Oblong rocksnails are natural grazers that eat organisms attached to large boulders and bedrock typically found toward the middle of the river. The snails and their food need clean free-flowing water to thrive. Oil spills, excessive sedimentation, agricultural activities, urban runoff, and stormwater runoff have damaged water quality along tributaries of the Cahaba River.   

“Aquatic snails such as the oblong rocksnail are ecological scavengers that help keep the water clean and play a vital role in keeping rivers and streams healthy,” said acting Regional Director, Michael Oetker. “Federally protecting this species and its habitat renews our commitment to conserve and recover aquatic animals within the Cahaba River, which is a biological treasure for wildlife and humans.”     

The Cahaba River is a biodiversity hot spot and named a priority watershed by the Alabama Rivers and Streams Network. The Cahaba has more than 135 different freshwater fishes, 50 mussels, and 32 snail species; 50 of which are considered imperiled by the state of Alabama and/or federally listed under the ESA. Although many species native to the Cahaba River basin and considered rare, the basin has also seen considerable improvements over the last 40 years because of protections provided by the Clean Water Act and the ESA.  

As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the ESA, it’s important to note that freshwater snails are ecological scavengers that are vital for keeping the water clean. Snails help keep rivers and streams healthy by eating algae, dead plants, and other wastes. They are also an important food source for many fish, turtles, and other species of wildlife. 

For more information on the proposal to list the oblong rocksnail as endangered, please read our Frequently Asked Questions

The proposed rule to list the oblong rocksnail as endangered appears in the Federal Register on October 31, 2023. Comments on the proposal may be submitted through January 2, 2024 by one the following methods:  

  1. Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: In the Search box, enter FWS-R4-ES-2023-0171), then click “Search.” On the resulting page, in the panel on the left side of the screen under the Document Type heading, check the Proposed Rule box to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment.”  
  2. By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R4-ES-2023-0171, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB/3W, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.  

We request that you send comments only by the methods described above. We will post all comments on This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide. 

 The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit Connect with our Facebook page at, follow our tweets at, watch our YouTube Channel at and download photos from our Flickr page at  



Story Tags

Aquatic animals
Freshwater mussels