The search is on for Mexico's "water monster", known as the axolotl. The animal has all but disappeared from the lakes in the Mexico City region. This is of great concern, as this region is the only known habitat of the axolotl, prompting some to question whether or not the species may be on the verge of extinction.
The axolotl earned the name "Mexican walking fish" due to the way it moves. Where as other fish swim, the axolotl makes use of four stubby legs and it's tail to "walk" along the bottoms of lakes. It is here that they find their primary source of food: insects, crustaceans, and smaller fish.
Lake Xochimilco, where the majority of the fish had been previously found, has become quite polluted as the population grows. Unfortunately, this may have played a huge role in the disappearance of the Mexican walking fish.
It is thought that millions of the axolotl occupied the lakes of Xochimilco and Chalco and thrived long before Mexico City was established. It seems a familiar and sad situation is occurring; the proximity to human population growth and man-made pollution results in nearby animal populations suffering.
— Nadia Drake (@slugnads) January 29, 2014
As stupid as tragic.. Mexico's salamander-like axolotl may have vanished http://t.co/rTHRh1JUGB
— Chris Dymond (@chrisdymond) January 29, 2014
If the destruction of the axolotl's natural habitat is causing the fish to go extinct, it may require human intervention.
Biologist Luis Zambrano of Mexico's National Autonomous University says that the previous three month hunt for the fish turned up nothing. A second three month hunt has been planned. If any are captured, they will be kept in labs. It is hoped that breeding the fish in tanks will allow the species to survive and perhaps come back from the brink of extinction.
What's startling is how such a rare creature could virtually vanish and no one notice until it is almost too late. Hopefully for the axolotl, these efforts will pan out and the rare fish can be saved.
Image via Wikimedia Commons