North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Waccamaw Silverside

Scientific Name: Menidia extensa

Status:  Federally Threatened, State Threatened


The Waccamaw silverside is an imperiled fish endemic (found nowhere else in the world) to the waters of Lake Waccamaw, a Carolina bay lake in Columbus County, NC. 

The Waccamaw Silverside is a small, thin fish, almost transparent with a silver lateral stripe. The eyes are large for its size and its jaw is angled upward.

Distribution by County: Waccamaw River Basin: Columbus Co. (Lake Waccamaw and Big Creek). NOTE: All headwater areas that flow into these occupied habitats should receive special management.

Habitat Preferences
This species is found only in the waters associated with Lake Waccamaw, Columbus County, North Carolina. This is a natural lake fed by acidic swamp waters; however, as a result of exposed limestone formations, the pH of the lake itself is near neutral. The Waccamaw Silverside can be found in schools near the surface throughout this shallow lake (Shute 1997).

Life History
The Waccamaw Silverside spawns through April and June, and their entire life cycle is typically completed in less than 2 years (Shute 1997).

Protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.  No Waccamaw silversides can be collected or killed without a permit from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission monitors the status of the silverside and the other endemic species in Lake Waccamaw on a regular basis.