The Death Valley pupfish is a small species of fish found only in Death Valley. What makes the Death Valley pupfish this week’s amazing animal of the week is that they live in water that is 4 times more salty than even the ocean and can live in water that ranges in temperature from 32-116 degrees Fahrenheit.
Death Valley is one of the driest (less than 2 inches of rain per year) and hottest locations on Earth (record setting 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913), making is a less than obvious location to find fish. They live in Devils Hole, an oasis in Death Valley with average water temperature of 92 degrees. Devils Hole is more than 500 feet deep, but the pupfish only live in a shallow area on the edge.
They are small, about 1.5 inches long, and silver colored with bands on their sides. Males turn bright blue during mating season which is late spring through early autumn. Pupfish are called pupfish because they frolic like puppies in the shallow water of Devils Hole which rises and falls up to 6 feet with seismic activity as far away as Japan.
Some scientists think these pupfish are the remainders of a fish species that live in Lake Manly which dried up 11000 years ago. Other scientists believe that the pupfish were brought to Devils Hole accidentally by humans or birds as recently as 1000 years ago.
Image of pupfish is the work of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.