Sadly, our planet is rapidly losing many iconic and valuable species. Find out the most endangered species living right here in Maryland.

Biodiversity is one of the hallmarks of our natural world. We have so many beautiful, unusual, and powerful creatures who each have a role to serve in helping our environment. Sadly, many of these species are becoming threatened, endangered, or even extinct. A report by 24/7 Wall St examined the two most endangered species in each state.

There are currently over 20,000 species whose populations are at risk. Many scientists describe the current state of our planet as a “sixth extinction.” There have previously been five mass extinctions on our planet, and our current sixth extinction is predicted to be the most devastating one yet. One study analyzed the population declines of over 27,000 species and found extremely high rates of population declines even for species of low concern. The study described our current state as a “biological annihilation.”

In the United States, we have the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to help protect imperiled species. Animals listed in this act receive certain protections to help their populations rebound and protect their habitats.

24/7 Wall St compiled a list of the most at-risk animals in every state to see how to best help endangered species in the United States. To help them in their research, they reviewed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of endangered species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list and other sources.

Coming up with exact numbers of endangered species can be difficult. 24/7 Wall St says, “Exact counts of each state’s endangered animal populations were not available. So we chose as examples for each state two critically endangered species. We focused on species with habitats unique to the state.”

The two most endangered species in Maryland are the Hay’s Spring Amphipod and the Maryland Darter. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the Hay’s Spring Amphipod is a tiny crustacean that only reaches one centimeter in length and hides in the crevasses of freshwater springs. These animals live their lives in darkness and therefore lack sight and pigmentation. At one point, the animal’s habitat was thought to consist of a single spring by the National Zoo. Conservation efforts became so serious that the exact location of the spring was confidential. Scientists have now found a few additional locations of the Hay’s Spring Amphipod.

The Maryland Darter, on the other hand, is a small freshwater fish that is only known to live in Harford County, Maryland. The Maryland Darter is so small in population numbers that scientists do not know much about the animal. Some scientists believe that there are more Maryland Darters than we know about hiding in deep, murky waters.

Courtesy of National Park Service & Maryland Department of Natural Resources

While the Hay’s Spring Amphipod and the Maryland Darter may not be the most charismatic species in the world, it is important that we preserve all biological diversity -- whether it’s the majestic African elephants or a small fish that lives in Maryland.

What do you think? Did you know about these endangered species? Let us know in the comments below!

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