Death Valley Pupfish: Living Fossils

death valley national park

Death Valley Pupfish: Living Fossils

Living in the desert is a privilege. I’m often reminded of that whenever I go hiking or exploring in the expansive lands that surround our crazy 24/7 city. Outside the glittering lights and honking horns, life is quiet and serene… the landscape is breathtaking… and adventure abounds. The best part? You don’t have to travel very far at all, thanks to so many amazing options at your disposal.

The more you explore these lands, the more you’ll want to experience… at which point, if you’re up for a day-trip, you’ll be in luck, as there are so many places located just a short day-trip away!

One of my favorites can be reached by just a two hour drive, and that is Death Valley National Park. It’s one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited due to its striking, Martian-like landscape, and plethora of impressive lifeforms that somehow manage to exist. The fact that anything at all can survive in a place most people think of as a lifeless wasteland is something that blows my mind every time I think about it, including right now as I’m writing this.

It gets hot in Death Valley. In fact, it’s one of the hottest places on the planet, with a whopping 134 degrees Fahrenheit being the highest temp ever recorded. That’s freakin’ hot. Yet, somehow, life exists there even then. How the “hell” (pardon the pun) is that even possible?

(But it’s not hot year-round. It can actually get pretty damn cold in the winter months, but not too cold to visit… actually, the winter is one of the best times of the year to visit Death Valley National Park. Anytime from about late October/early November through early April is ideal.)

And then there’s the seasonal life that exists at Death Valley, including the flowers that bloom during the spring, some years more abundant than others; the birds that migrate through during the winter months; and the desert pupfish who can survive the extreme desert heat – and that’s just to name a few.

It was the rare “super bloom” that brought me and my boyfriend, Dave, out for our most recent visit to Death Valley. (The “super bloom” of wildflowers happens once every several years when the conditions are just right.) It was very beautiful, and something that I hope to experience again in my lifetime.

Death Valley Super Bloom, March 2016

death valley national park

death valley super bloomHowever, it wasn’t the super bloom that made our trip most memorable, but the desert pupfish of Death Valley… and I’m glad that I got to document that part of the trip.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley Pupfish

Here are a few interesting facts about the Death Valley pupfish, or “Salt Water pupfish” as they are also known:

  • Salt Creek and Cottonball Marsh at Death Valley are the only two locations in the entire world where these specific pupfish exist
  • IUCN classified them as endangered species
  • Spring is when you’ll actually see them, as that is their mating season
  • Having evolved from a similar ancestor over the course of 20,000 years, they are considered “living fossils”
  • Approximately 30 different species of pupfish can be found on Earth
  • This particular species is incredibly unique because it can survive in extreme temperatures ranging from 0 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Streams, springs, pools and marshes are where they can be found
  • A few months to a year is the average lifespan for each individual, due to water evaporation; those that survive are found in the remaining water sources

(To read more about the incredible Death Valley pupfish species, check out this informative website.)

Death Valley Pupfish Death Valley PupfishWhen Dave and I made our way to the pupfish habitat, we weren’t expecting much. In fact, I assumed that these little creatures would be barely visible to the naked eye. But looking down into the flowing streams around Salt Creek, there they were! Totally viewable and oh so cute!

Desert pupfish at Death Valley National Park

Death Valley Pupfish

The Death Valley pupfish are a living example of just how special the desert is. I highly recommend you check them out next spring!

Here are a few more pics from our trip to Death Valley National Park…

Death Valley National Park

death valley pupfish Super Bloom at Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park Super Bloom at Death Valley National Park

__All photos taken by Gina Mizzoni.__

Gina Mizzoni Photography offers custom lifestyle photography services for men, women, businesses and families. Let Las Vegas photographer Gina capture your inner light, your most precious moments, your life. Contact us to book your appointment today. For more information about our many photography offerings, check out AboutFAQs and Investment. (Psst! Gina is also a writer, so if you need rockin’ copy, she’s your chick.)