Ubercool "Mexican Walking Fish" Nearing Extinction

Close up of a pink axolotl on a piece of wood.

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Most Adorable Endangered Creature Ever?

A hand holding a pink Axolotl.

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We're saddened to learn that the alien-looking Axolotl salamander (Ambystoma mexicanum), aka Mexican walking fish or Mexican water monster, is seriously threatened with extinction because of habitat destruction and water pollution.

One of the coolest things about Axolotl - apart from their appearance - is they ability to regenerate most body parts. Read on for more details and photos.

Non-Native Competition and Habitat Destruction

A close up of a dark axolotl floating underwater.

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According to the Yahoo News/Associated Press:

The number of axolotls (pronounced ACK-suh-LAH-tuhl) in the wild is not known. But the population has dropped from roughly 1,500 per square mile in 1998 to a mere 25 per square mile this year, according to a survey by Zambrano's scientists using casting nets.

Axolotl's Last Stand?

An Axolotl swimming on small stones.

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One problem is with non-native fish species like the Asian Carp and the African tilapia that eat young Axolotls. They haven't evolved in the same environment, so they don't have good defense mechanisms against them.

The other big issue is habitat destruction. Lakes have been drained, and wastewater from Mexico City pollute waterways. This will not be easy to fix, but something will have to be done because these species that are threatened are just the canary in the coal mine. Bigger problems are on the horizon.

How to Save the Axolotl?

A pink Axolotl swimming over pebbles.

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So far, scientists disagree on how to save the creature. But a pilot sanctuary is expected to open in the next three to six months in the waters around Island of the Dolls, so-called because the owner hangs dolls he finds in the canals to ward off evil spirits.
Zambrano proposes up to 15 axolotl sanctuaries in Xochimilco's canals, where scientists would insert some kind of barrier and clear the area of nonnative species.

Via Discovery News, Yahoo News, Earth First