Global warming may threaten the Santa Cruz Sand Trout if Baja Arizona gets more rain and our rivers start flowing again.
Some background on the Sand Trout from the Frumious Bandersnatch:
As the last Ice Age ended and the climate of Southern Arizona warmed and dried out (Global Climate Change started 10,000 years ago here) , the flows of the Santa Cruz River near Tucson became erratic and then vanished completely by the mid-1950s due to groundwater pumping by farms, mines and urban water utilities. The drying was accelerated by the construction of a series of cheap hotels on its banks.
The native fish of that stretch of the river became extinct. The last native fish was caught south of the San Xavier Mission in the 1950’s and in a bottle at the Smithsonian in Washington, it is rumored. With one exception… the Santa Cruz Sand Trout, which evolved a capability to live in an environment completely devoid of water.
The Santa Cruz Sand Trout ranges in size from approximately 5 centimeters to over 100 centimeters, and is characterized by a rubbery skin. It is difficult to tell whether a Santa Cruz Sand Trout is dead or alive due to its extremely low metabolism rate.
The Santa Cruz Sand Trout has been commercially harvested and sold in Tucson toy stores for many years, delighting several generations of local children. There are many reports of Santa Cruz Sand Trout escaping Tucson homes and establishing residence in backyard sand boxes and local washes.
The Santa Cruz Sand Trout is one of Baja Arizona’s most highly prized sport fish, requiring the use of a 4×4 to troll the riverbed. Beer cans are reportedly the most effective artificial lure to catch Sand Trout.
The Santa Cruz Sand Trout can only survive short periods of wetness, such as occur during the infrequent storm flows in the river.
A petition to have the Santa Cruz Sand Trout declared an endangered species is being prepared by the Baja Arizona Ministry of Commercial Fisheries in order to avoid the possibility of anyone trying to restore the flow of the Santa Cruz River by putting treated effluent in it.
The Santa Cruz Sand Trout has also been nominated for an award for water conservation efficiency as it is the only known Arizona species of fish which requires zero gallons per capita of water to survive.