Monday, October 1, 2012
Life is Tough I
There is more and more being said about the almost continuous discovery of other planets in our galaxy and the number of them that might be able to support life. I have never doubted that there is life on other planets and have attributed the doubt of others to our human arrogance. Life on Earth itself is tenacious and resilient. We find life inhabiting near boiling water in many places, at depths with incredible pressure around the Black Smokers in the deep ocean canyons, and to the near airless regions at the outer edges of the atmosphere
Those of us who have worked in the more difficult and demanding climes around the world know about life’s resilience and tenacity. Although I have been involved in conservation work with manatees, mangroves, and, most recently, mountain bogs, much of my early work in conservation biology was in the deserts of Utah, Nevada, and Southern California where the nights can be very cold, the days hot as blazes, and fresh water sources few and far between. What was even more amazing to my friends and relatives was that I was working with fish; small, even tiny fish there in the deserts from the Salton Sea in Southern California, up through the springs and creeks of the mountain valleys of Northern Nevada and Utah, and down to the floor of Death Valley hundred feet below sea level.
One of these systems, Salt Creek originates in a low range of hills on the floor of Death Valley. This is the only place in the world that one finds the appropriately named Salt Creek pupfish (Cyprinodon salinus) in a spring-stream complex with water temperatures that reach over 112F in the summer, with salinities much in excess of sea water and with a spring that pumps enough Lithium out to keep a manic-depressive happy for a long time.
(The comments will be continued in the next posting.)