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Devil's Hole pupfish surf through a mini tsunami

April 27, 2010 |  1:26 pm

Devilshole

It's tough enough to belong to a 22,000-year-old species on the brink of extinction, eking out an existence on a shallow shelf in a geothermal pool with your every move, spawning included, documented meticulously. Now, we get to see the Devil's Hole pupfish surfing through a mini-tsunami from the 7.2-magnitude quake that struck Baja California April 4.

The U.S. Geological Survey has the footage on its website.

Earthquakes can scramble the shallow limestone shelves where the inch-long fish live and spawn. This one  radically redistributed the gravel, sand, silt and cobble in the roughly 23-square-yard shelf that comprises the habitat for the entire species, whose population varies from about 150 to as many as 500, depending on the season.

The fish in this video bolted for cover and returned to the bed about five minutes after the shaking stopped, according to USGS, one of several federal agencies that monitor the habitat.

-- Geoff Mohan

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