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Blue Pike Still Extinct In Lake Erie
Researchers Discover Look-Alike Fish Instead
CLEVELAND, Posted 7:18 a.m. May 25, 1999 -- After nearly a year of study,
it turns out that the extinct Lake Erie blue pike is, well, still
Look-alike fish caught in other American and Canadian lakes are not,
according to new research, descended from Lake Erie blue pike. The
finding came from Carol Stepien, a Case Western Reserve University
Stepien was scheduled to present her findings today at the annual
conference of the International Association of Great Lakes Researchers
hosted by Case in Cleveland.
At the beginning of the 20th century, more than 100 million blue pike
inhabited Lake Erie. Lake Ontario had a small number. Overfishing and
pollution apparently contributed to the collapse of the blue pike
population in the 1950s.
Jim Anthony of Conneaut caught one in 1962. Recognizing the rarity, he
froze and saved it for nearly 37 years, until he read of Stepien's
research and gave her the specimen. She used DNA analysis to compare
Anthony's specimen to look-alike fish from inland Canadian lakes. Her
finding: the Lake Erie blue pike was genetically different, meaning it
wasn't related to pike elsewhere.
The upshot: the Lake Erie blue pike is still extinct.
Ken Paxton of the Ohio Division of Wildlife never considered it likely
that blue pike would be rediscovered and reintroduced to Lake Erie, so
Stepien's conclusions came as no surprise.
Nonetheless, with the findings, "I think there is some sadness that they
are almost certainly gone, that they're extinct," he said.