https://www.hcn.org/issues/52.7/fish-th ... t-of-water
Maya L. Kapoor is an associate editor at High Country News. Email her at email@example.com or submit a letter to the editor (https://www.hcn.org/feedback/contact-us). Follow @Kapoor_ML (https://twitter.com/Kapoor_ML). This coverage was supported by contributors to the High Country News Research Fund (https://www.hcn.org/support) and by the Fund for Environmental Journalism of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Copyright © High Country NewsIn the spring of 2016, biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came to a terrible realization: The Yaqui catfish, the only catfish species native to the Western United States, was on the cusp of disappearing. After a week of searching, they could catch only two wild fish. They estimated that, at most, just 30 fish remained.
For approximately two decades, the last known Yaqui catfish in the United States had been kept in artificial ponds built in and around San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, on the Arizona-Sonora border, and at a local zoo. Creatures of rivers and wetlands, they had not reproduced. Still, federal and state biologists felt they had to try one more time. In a last-ditch breeding effort, the agency gathered 11 fish and shipped them to a hatchery in Kansas. Within weeks, all of them died. Eventually, even the one geriatric catfish left on display at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum had to be put down.
Two take away messages from this story:
- How is the border wall related? Construction at the wall site is draining water from this region to proceed.
- Professional fisheries biologists collected 11 specimens in an attempt to breed them, and all died quickly. Lesson? Failures in fish breeding projects is not merely the domain of amateurs, and knowing that it can happen to professionals should (ironically) encourage all of us to continue to learn and do as best as we can - don't get discouraged by failure.