"The fish begin to move out of the camera's view as the waves start getting bigger, and then, because of all the sediment being stirred up, you can't see the fish. As the waves grew stronger, the fish likely moved into deeper waters," Chaudoin said.
To see video clips, visit the U.S. Geological Survey website.
"Although we knew from water-level records that earthquakes influenced Devils Hole in the past, this is the first time we've caught one on video," said Paul Barrett, a Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who leads the Devils Hole Pupfish Recovery Team. "It may provide great insight into how the wave action cleans the fine silt off of the shelf."
Although the violent sloshing during the quake washed away algae that are essential to the food web of the critically endangered fish, algae have already grown back substantially, according to biologists.
Spawning pupfish: Canaries in coal mine
"We monitor when the fish spawn and when they don't, and the environmental factors present at the time," Chaudoin said. "We keep track of certain physical parameters in the water, such as oxygen and temperature. We also study the influence of day and night light cycles on the fish's behavior."
Disentangling the complex interactions between environmental factors and the pupfish's behavior is not a simple task. It appears a combination of several factors, such as oxygen concentration in the water, temperature and length of daylight, all interact to trigger spawning behavior.
"Our goal is to monitor all these factors on an ongoing basis so we can obtain a continuous record," Feuerbacher said. "In the past, research at Devils Hole has focused on personal observations and measurements taken at certain times, which gives you only snapshots of what is happening at those times."
Chaudoin added: "The implications of the studies at Devils Hole reach far beyond
|Contact: Daniel Stolte|
University of Arizona