I've spent the last two weeks going through the archives of ten years of Geotripper. I've been enjoying picking out a few bits here and there that I really enjoyed writing. One of these was the story of the toughest fish in the world, and the very surprising place where it is found. This was posted on February 19, 2015...
On top of everything else about this species is the place where it lives,
the last place one would even think of looking for fish: Death Valley in
eastern California. The hottest place in the world, and the driest
place in North America.
Meet the Death Valley Pupfish (Cyprinodon salinus salinus), sometimes known as the Salt Creek Pupfish. It is just one of nine or so species and subspecies of fish that survive in the Death Valley region.
Other species of pupfish are more severely limited. The Devil's Hole Pupfish is restricted to a single cavern opening only a few tens of feet across. It is said to be the most endangered vertebrate species in America and maybe the world. There have rarely been more than 300, and at times the population has dipped to barely two dozen. Their continued survival is obviously in doubt.
(Cyprinodon nevadensis calidae) once lived in two hot springs east of Death Valley. Modifications of the springs in the 1960s to build bath houses destroyed their habitat, and they were gone by 1970. It was the first species to be taken off the endangered species list, not because it was doing better, but because it was extinct. Let's do better with the others.
Postscript: Since I originally posted this story on the pupfish, I've become aware of another species of pupfish in the region that was thought to be extinct, but which now is thriving on private property in Shoshone, east of Death Valley. Here is the very interesting story of their discovery. Biological and environmental details can be found here.