How An Earthquake In Mexico Affected The World’s Rarest Fish A Thousand Miles Away
The world is connected in ways that most of us will never see, or really even imagine – and a recent Mexican earthquake is proof of exactly that.
Recently, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake shook Mexico. It happened on land, resulted in two people losing their lives, and triggered a “desert tsunami” all the way in the Devil’s Hole pool in Death Valley, CA – that’s a full 932 miles away.
The Devil’s Hole is located in the hottest place on Earth but still manages to maintain a small amount of water – and in that water lives the Devil’s Hole pupfish. They have survived there in isolation, in a pool shorter than half an Olympic swimming pool, for over 10,000 years.
Both the size and extreme depth of the pool make it susceptible to standing waves, which can be caused by seismic events like the recent earthquake.
Kevin Wilson, a National Park Service aquatic ecologist, released a statement.
“The pupfish have survived several of these events in recent years. We didn’t find any dead fish after the waves stopped.”
That said, the resulting waves from this earthquake caused the biggest waves that have been seen in the pool, including those from a 7.1 magnitude quake in 2019 (that was much closer to home).
Though the short term experience of the seismic activity probably alarmed the fish, the long term consequences could be more devastating.
The pupfish rely on a shallow shelf of algae for food, and the stirring sediment removed much of it. With the numbers of fish rising quickly, a drop in food supply could prove deadly.
They had better figure something out, though because the park services website states the pool has also felt events as far away as Japan, Indonesia, and Chile.
Earthquakes are typically the largest of these kind of happenings (called seiches), but storms on lakes and bays can cause them, too.
With the way our weather patterns are changing in unpredictable ways, they will no doubt be dealing with more and more seiches in the future.