Death Valley is the hottest place on earth with a temperature rising up to a hundred and thirty-four Degree-Fahrenheit. Coming here, you will never think you can still find life other than the great canyons, various rock formations, and sand dunes. But come a little closer and you will find a beautifully unique kind of living creatures that you can only find in a desert. Here are five of the things that are worth mentioning.
1. The pupfish
Death Valley, despite being a vast desert, houses thousands of colorful fishes that resemble a sardine – the pupfish. How the pupfish came into this bone-dry land dates back to the ice age 10,000 years ago, when the valley was a huge lake of ice glaciers. The schools of pupfish got trapped in the waterholes when the glaciers melted and later on they evolved into various distinct species.
The conditions in the tiny ponds in Death Valley are not close to ideal – the water can warm up to 90 degrees F, and the salt concentration can be twice or more of that of seawater. But the pupfish drinks an extensive amount of water and excrete salt through their digestive tracts efficiently to survive.
Wistfully, the Pupfish declined in population in recent years due to the farmers’ pumping of the desert groundwater for irrigation. In 2006, the Devils Hole pupfish population dropped down below 40. It was almost close to extinction. Thank goodness to the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which relocated the fishes to swank aquariums, the particular species of pupfish was successfully revived.
2. The roadrunner
You have probably seen these iconic desert birds first in Looney Tunes. While you might have found the cartoon roadrunner character cute and adorable, the real-life roadrunners are pretty sly, clever, and often hunt their preys in a Tasmanian Devil-style.
Because they are iconic, the roadrunner has quite become an attraction to tourists. Amazingly, they do frequent the Death Valley National Park Visitor Center, and sightseers can easily see them through the huge glass windows. However, they don’t stay close to the visitor’s center for attraction. The roadrunners are looking for fresh meat and they figured out that some birds fly into the glass windows. With their lightning-quick speed, they will leap at the stunned bird and rip it apart. The creepy part? They won’t mind if you’re looking or not. They will do the ripping and eating in front of the horrified onlookers and it doesn’t bother them. Yes, that’s one thing you don’t want to see for yourself in Death Valley.
3. The desert tortoise
By simply thinking about it, it seems impossible for a tortoise to survive in a desert. But the desert tortoise found the simple solution to thrive in the heat. How? By avoiding it. Ninety percent of the tortoise’s life is immobile – it hibernates during winter and stays in its burrow during summer. The desert tortoise only comes out into the surface to work after a good rain.
The tortoise’s way of surviving despite its long immobility is through stocking up water from the plants it eats and collecting rain by digging trenches. The tortoise relies on its highly sophisticated bladder to stay hydrated throughout its hibernation period. Its bladder is like a holding tank that allows it to reabsorb water back to its body thus, it can go a full year without taking any water.
If you happen to find a slow moving tortoise while strolling around Death Valley, don’t ever stop to help it. They will be terrified if you pick them up that instead of helping them, you will be decreasing their chance of survival. When a tortoise gets terrified it will void its bladder then it will lose its water reserve.
4. The sailing stones
The sailing stones in the Racetrack Playa has been one of the mysteries in Death Valley. For years, stones of different sizes, some are enormous, have been moving across and inscribing long tracks along the Racetrack Playa floor. This happens without any intervention from humans or animals. The mystery has baffled scientists for decades until recently when some scientists finally caught the mysterious phenomenon on the act.
It’s not the aliens or magnetic forces or any superficial belief. According to them, it is the careful balance of liquid water, ice, and high winds that cause the movement of the rocks across the valley floor. Under certain winter condition, enough amount of water and ice in the Racetrack Playa could float the rocks across the mud in a light breeze that will leave a trail in the mud as the rocks moved.
5.The super bloom
Once every decade, Death Valley reveals a rare and beautiful sea of wildflowers that blossom by the millions. This phenomenon is being referred to as the “Super Bloom”.
If you don’t know much about Death Valley and the mystery of the flowers, you would think they simply spring out of nowhere. But the reality is there are always millions of seeds hidden on the desert floor, guarded by a thick coating from the extreme heat, and just waiting for the right amount of water for them to sprout and bloom.
The last recorded Super Bloom happened in the spring of 2016 after a heavy rain from a recent storm poured out in Death Valley. The three rainstorms dumped in parts of the valley triggered the growth of the wildflower seeds that would have been dormant otherwise.
These are but a few things you can find in Death Valley. Do you have an interesting Death Valley experience or knowledge? Share it with us in the comment section below.