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This Critically Endangered Fish Has Lived In A Deep Limestone Cave Of Nevada’s Death Valley National Park For Over 10,000 Years

Nicholas J. Klein - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only

In a deep limestone cave of Nevada’s Death Valley National Park, there lives the Devil’s Hole pupfish, a species that has been listed as critically endangered since 2014. These creatures are both resilient and endearing, making them popular among fish fans.

The pupfish gets its name from its playful nature, which resembles puppies. It has a tiny, silvery-blue body and a flat head like a pike. Typically, an adult pupfish reaches a size of about 35 millimeters.

Pupfish have been living in Devil’s Hole, a limestone cave that is part of an extensive underwater system, for over 10,000 years. The water is 92 degrees Fahrenheit and has low oxygen levels, which makes it an unlikely climate for any fish to survive in. However, that is where pupfish thrive.

Their favorite spot in Devil’s Hole is in the shallow water on a small ledge in a compact area of the cave. It is where they like to feed and breed. Devil’s Hole pupfish feed mostly on algae that grows on the limestone shelf, as well as some small invertebrates.

In the past, experts have tried to create a similar artificial platform for the pupfish, hoping it would help grow their population. But, the natural limestone shelf has remained the only place they choose to gather in.

Since the 1970s, researchers have dived down into the depths of the cavern twice a year to count the population. In the mid-1990s, their numbers dropped drastically.

Before, their population had fluctuated around 200 fish in the spring and 300 to 500 in the fall. Conservation efforts have been put into action since then to boost their population, but not much progress has been made. So far, the smallest count of pupfish was 35.

On the evening of April 30, three men infiltrated Death Valley National Park and swam in Devil’s Hole. They discharged a firearm at least 10 times, shooting at signs, locks on the gates, and a motion sensor on the security system.

Although they tried to take the security system apart, the cameras were still able to record their activity at Devil’s Hole.

Nicholas J. Klein – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only

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