Monday, May 28, 2007

Desert pupfish in hot water

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The last place anyone would expect to find fish is Devil's Hole, a chasm in the middle of the Mojave Desert where a 100-degree day is mild and the only thing bigger than the rocky expanse of desert is the sky above it.

But nature is nothing if not amazing -- as good an explanation as any of how the Devil's Hole pupfish has survived in the bottomless geothermal pool that gave the fish its name. It is tiny, just an inch long, yet few species loom so large in the history of American environmentalism.

The Devil's Hole pupfish is one of the rarest animals in the world. The seemingly endless effort to save it laid the foundation for the Endangered Species Act and shaped Western water policy a generation ago with a landmark Supreme Court ruling.

But after 20,000 years in the desert, the fish teeters on the edge of extinction. No more than 42 remain in Devil's Hole.

The Devil's Hole pupfish has been the beneficiary of one of the most aggressive campaigns ever to preserve a species, an effort every bit as intense as those to save the bald eagle and California condor. The Endangered Species Act requires nothing less. But saving the pupfish is more than a legal obligation for the biologists and bureaucrats involved.

Source : SFGate
Image link : SFGate

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