Pupfish Shakeup

Paul Barrett ’80 is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expert on the endangered Devil’s Hole pupfish, several of which appear in this photograph.


Only around 100 of the pupfish exist, dwelling in a geothermal pool within a limestone cavern in Death Valley. When last spring’s Baja California earthquake roiled the pupfish pool, a permanent monitoring station caught the sloshing on underwater video — some of the action looks like a slowly exploding lava lamp.

Barrett told The New York Times that the splish-splashing may have been a “good thing” for the fish because it stirred up nutrients and removed silt from a ledge where fragile fish larvae spend their early days. In any event, he adds, the video is just “pretty phenomenal” to watch.

Barrett is the science adviser to the regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, based in Albuquerque, N.M. The pool’s monitoring station is maintained by the University of Arizona in conjunction with the Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and Nevada Department of Wildlife.

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