The population of one of the world’s rarest fish is dropping. Researchers say they recently counted 136 observable pupfish in Devil’s Hole.
That number is down from 187 that were seen in October, but it’s not a concern because the high spring season population count follows years of substantially lower spring population counts, which triggered concerns over the chances of survival of this critically endangered fish.
Experts say that’s normal this time of year because of the limited food sources during winter.
In the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, scientists counted about 200 Devils Hole pupfish in the annual spring season surveys. There was a startling decline in fish numbers starting in the late 1990s. Biologists were extremely concerned when less than 40 fish were counted in the spring seasons of 2006, 2007, and 2013.
The last time the pupfish made headlines was back in 2016 when three men broke into a habitat in Devils Hole killing one of the fish.
According to officials, on April 30, 2016, the men dismantled security cameras, shot up various scientific equipment, and left behind trash. A spokeswoman with Death Valley National Parks estimates the damage was in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Surveillance video showed one of the suspects walking in the water that houses the pupfish at Devil’s Hole. One pupfish was found dead. Devil’s Hole is the only place in the world where the small blue fish are found.