Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Guess What Else the Devils Hole Pupfish have had to put up with over the last 20,000 years?
I wrote about the precarious existence of the Devils Hole Pupfish a few months ago. The highly endangered fish live in a single cavern opening in the Death Valley region in water that is at a constant 92 degrees or so. They've had to put up with a lot over the years: declining lakes and rivers as the ice ages ended, predation, blazing hot temperatures, isolation and inbreeding, and human disturbances, garbage, groundwater pumping, and intrusive biologists measuring every aspect of their existence. Cameras monitor their every move. So what else?
The USGS camera monitors at Devils Hole caught the effects of the shaking of the Easter Sunday 7.2 magnitude El Mayor-Cucapah earthquake. Although Devils Hole is situated hundreds of miles away from the quake epicenter in Baja California, the water was disturbed by the waves passing through the region. And from looking at the video, 'disturbed' is a gentle term; the water was sloshing rather violently. The fish look a little confused, but were apparently not adversely affected, although sediment was redistributed about the small ledge where they derive most of their food. Not that any single fish would remember it, but the small pond has probably been shaken hundreds of times in the last 20,000 years that they have been isolated here, and they still survive.
Read the USGS analysis here. If the link to the video above doesn't work, try here. Thanks to Lee Allison of Arizona Geology, and Dave Schumaker at Geology News for the catch.