Draining more than 5,000 square miles of land, the Upper Coosa River Basin ranges from Southeastern Tennessee and North Central Georgia to Weiss Dam in Northeast Alabama and holds an incredible array of aquatic species. Etowah Darter No other river basin in North America has a higher percentage of endemic species than the Upper Coosa River Basin. Thirty (30) different species of fishes, mussels, snails and crayfishes call the waters of the Coosa—and no where else—home. Researchers call the Upper Coosa Basin a “globally significant biological treasure.” The Upper Coosa River is the historic home to 100 different fish species, including 12 endemic species. For a river basin in a temperate climate, the Coosa River basin has the greatest number of endemic fish species in the world. This includes six species listed as federally endangered or threatened. Due to the introduction of exotic species, currently, the basin is home to 114 different species. The basin is also known for its tremendous diversity of mussels and snails. The basin is the historic home to 43 mussel species and 32 species of snails. Sadly, 15 species of mussels and eight species of snails have been lost from the Upper Coosa Basin. In the Upper and Lower Coosa River Basins together, a total of 37 snails and mussels have been lost. Researchers say that this loss is considered the largest single extinction event in U.S. history. Of the mussels and snails remaining in the Upper Coosa River Basin, seven are listed as federally threatened or endangered. Additionally, the Upper Coosa River Basin is home to 18 species of crayfish.
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