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Paddle Georgia discovers endangered catfish on Etowah

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The Coosa madtom, a small catfish listed as a state endangered species, has already made two appearances on Paddle Georgia’s 2017 float down the Etowah.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources naturalist Brett Albanese has been at the head of the hunt for the variety of species that the Coosa River Basin has to offer.

“Paddle Georgia is an opportunity to sample areas that are normally hard to reach,” said Albanese.

Finding the Coosa madtom twice already bodes well for the health of the Etowah River.

“Madtoms are sensitive and require clean gravel to spawn in,” Albanese said. “They’re a beautiful fish.”

The Coosa madtom is adorned with brown and yellow markings and venomous spines.

“I thought he would be bigger than he was,” said 13-year-old Paddle Georgia participant Anijah B., who assisted with catching the Madtom.

Impressed by the beauty of the fish, Anijah B. explains, “It’s important to protect the Coosa Madtom because it’s only found in two rivers.”

Protection for the Coosa madtom is possible through a variety of measures. “The best thing that we can do for the Coosa madtom is watershed level conservation efforts,” Albanese explains. This means anything from limiting water use, regulating new developments, and, as citizens, maintaining natural growth along the banks of the river.

Paddle Georgia participants hope that these measures will be taken so that they can continue to enjoy the biodiversity of the Coosa River Basin.

Paddle Georgia 2017 will continue today on the Etowah River and will reach Heritage Park in Rome on Friday afternoon for a River’s End Celebration.