The Fishing and Marine Industry Daily News Feed

Defying the Odds

For more than 50 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Nevada Department of Wildlife and their partners have used scuba and surface monitoring for Devils Hole pupfish and it appears conservation and recovery efforts are paying off.

This past April, scientists counted 175 pupfish – the most observed of this critically endangered species in a spring count in 22 years. Fall counts are typically higher due to greater food resources as a result of more sunlight throughout the summer months.

Supervisory fisheries biologist for the department, Brandon Senger scuba-counted the “surprising” number of young fish below the surface with other biologists noting that the fish appeared to be in “both remarkable condition and very active.”

Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) live in the upper 80 feet of a deep water-filled cavern and sun-lit shallow pool at the cavern’s entrance, making this the smallest range of any vertebrate species on the planet. Devils Hole is a detached unit of Death Valley National Park surrounded by the  Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Nye County, Nevada.

“Devil Hole is still under the impacts of groundwater pumping in the 60s so I feel that we have a duty as a society that if we’ve impacted the habitat for this pupfish, then we should do something to try to save it,” said Kevin Wilson, aquatic ecologist for Death Valley National Park, who manages the resources of Devils Hole.

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