Here we report the first record of the Eastern Hellbender in the Mobile River Basin (Cartecay River, Coosawattee River system) of northwest Georgia. Nearly all records of Eastern Hellbenders in the southeastern United States are from Tennessee or Ohio river drainages (Mississippi River Basin); a few historic records of presumably introduced origin are also known from the Savannah drainage (Atlantic Basin). We first captured this species in June 2009 while surveying for fishes. We then carried out Hellbender surveys at 6 sites and captured 2 individual Hellbenders in the Cartecay River within 1 river km of our first collection site. However, no more Hellbenders were found during additional fish surveys at 21 sites. Microsatellite data indicate an 84% probability of membership with a Hellbender population in the adjacent Toccoa River system (Tennessee drainage), suggesting either natural historic dispersal (e.g., via stream capture) or a more recent introduction from the Toccoa into the Cartecay system. Additional studies are needed to assess the full range, conservation status, and origin of this species in the Coosawattee River system.
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