Extinct Animals The Tecopa Pupfish

About the now extinct animal species the Tecopa Pupfish, history, physical description, location and how the species died out.


The Tecopa Pupfish

Physical Description: One of the 12 varieties of pupfish found in the U.S., the Tecopa pupfish was blue with a black vertical streak at the end of its tail. The female could be distinguished by her stripes. The whoppers of this subspecies barely topped 1 in. in length.

Where and How They Lived: The Tecopa pupfish made its home in little salty pools and thermal springs near Death Valley National Monument in eastern California. Thriving in waters up to 108 deg. F, these tiny fish ate blue-green algae and produced anywhere from 2 to 10 generations of offspring in a year's time.

How and When Destroyed: During the 1940s the North and South Tecopa Hot Springs were channeled by the builders of a bathhouse. The pupfish had difficulty adapting to the swift-flowing water; their halcyon days filled with basking and munching greens in gentle, tepid pools were over. Mosquito fish were introduced to the Tecopa waters, where they developed a taste for both the usual pupfish fare and the pupfish themselves. Water pollution from the agricultural and recreational development of the area sounded the final death knell. The last pupfish were spotted in an artificial pond and creek at Jed's Motel in Tecopa Hot Springs. Government biologists have been on the lookout for the Tecopa pupfish since 1970, but it was removed from the endangered animals list in 1978 and declared extinct. "The most depressing thing about this loss of life-form is that it was totally avoidable," said Robert Herbst, the assistant secretary of the interior at the time. The bathhouse has long since gone bankrupt and been deserted.

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