LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Death Valley National Park was hit hard as flash floods tore out roads, but the endangered Devils Hole pupfish — miles away in their secluded home — escaped with only “minor” impacts, according to park officials.

Devils Hole is a geothermal pool in Nevada’s Amargosa Valley, not far from Pahrump in Nye County. It’s home to the only naturally occurring population of the famous species of pupfish. Good news regarding the number of pupfish in early 2023 could be tempered by the impact of August’s floods.

(Photo: USFWS/O. Feuerbacher)

“Devils Hole pupfish forage and spawn on a small rock shelf near the water’s surface, feeding on algae. This algae depends on sunlight and nutrients in the water for growth. Sediment washed onto the shelf by flooding provided extra nutrients, benefitting both the algae and the pupfish,” according to a post on Death Valley’s Facebook page.

“Unfortunately, any pupfish eggs recently laid on the shelf were likely suffocated by sediment,” officials noted.

In January, park staff said 17 new pupfish had been born — the most ever counted in December and January.

“However, young and adult fish were able to swim out of harm’s way and appear to be doing well,” according to the post.

There are several species of pupfish in the region, including the Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfish, which was in the headlines recently as the U.S. Bureau of Land Management shelved a company’s proposal to explore for lithium near the fish’s habitat.

(Photo: USFWS/O. Feuerbacher)

“Death Valley National Park employees are still assessing and observing other pupfishes in locations such as Salt Creek,” according to the park service.

Devils Hole has been a part of Death Valley National Park since 1952, although it is actually within the boundaries of the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. It’s about 90 miles east of Las Vegas.

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the water at Devils Hole maintains a temperature of 93 degrees year-round.

In September 2022, an earthquake near Guadalajara, Mexico, triggered 4-foot waves in the tiny Devils Hole environment. A count earlier in the year found 175 pupfish, and there didn’t appear to be any major change from the “desert tsunami” that followed the quake.

“The pupfish have survived several of these events in recent years,” said Kevin Wilson, National Park Service aquatic ecologist.

Park service officials said there had been a number of questions about Tropical Storm Hilary’s impact on the fish.