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Endangered fish population in Death Valley NP up sharply, to highest level in 19 years

One of the most endangered fish species on the planet, one that calls a tiny water-filled cave home, has undergone a population boom. National Park Service biologists recently surveyed the Devils Hole pupfish colony at Death Valley National Park, and counted 263 individuals, the greatest number recorded in 19 years.

This count came on the heels of a magnitude 7.6 earthquake in Mexico that caused 4-foot waves in Devils Hole on September 19. Pupfish are counted using both scuba and surface visual counters. Sloshing waves removed algae, invertebrates, and other organic matter from a shallow shelf that pupfish use to forage and spawn. This made it easier for biologists to see and count pupfish from the surface. Scientists using scuba also counted pupfish at greater depths.

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