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Mexico water monster: Axolotl, the Walking Fish, vanishing quickly from lakes

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A Mexico water monster, the axolotl, is vanishing quickly from lakes in the Mexico City region. Experts worry that the salamander-esque Walking Fish might have fully disappeared from its sole natural habitat in the wild, sparking a wide search to see if this animal is still able to exist on its own. The Telegraph shares this Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, that a three-month hunt is scheduled within the next few weeks in the hopes of finding more of these disappearing creatures.

The Mexico water monster is called ugly by some — its slimy body, wide gills, and curling mouth are indeed a bit off-putting at first — but for nature lovers, losing this interesting creature would be nothing less than a tragedy. The axolotl is sometimes called a “water monster” of the Spanish-speaking country, as well as the Walking Fish. The animals’ only habitat in the wild is known as Lake Xochimilco, which is struggling in the face of heavy pollution and expanding urban reach.

“Biologist Luis Zambrano of Mexico's National Autonomous University says the most recent three-month attempt to net axolotls found not one of the creatures. He says researchers are planning a second three-month hunt for the creatures, which still survive in labs and breeding tanks … Millions once lived in the giant lakes of Xochimilco and Chalco on which Mexico City was built. Using four stubby legs to drag themselves along lake bottoms or their thick tails to swim like mini-alligators, they hunted plentiful aquatic insects, small fish and crustaceans.”

According to traditional legends on this Mexico water monster, the axolotl was actually a transformation of the Aztec god of death and lightning, Xolotl. After the god feared he was going to be destroyed by the other gods, the legend says that he changed into the salamander-like animal and escaped into the lake for safety.

The Mexican Academy of Sciences has declared that although a 1988 survey of the Mexico City lakes revealed over 6,000 axolotls within a single square kilometer, that number continued to drop as the years progressed. Less than 15 years later, that figure had sunk to less than 1,000, and by just 2008, only a hundred or so of these animals were found within that same frame of lake territory.

Although experts are saying it is far too early to assume that the Mexico water monster has gone extinct in its natural habitat, if pollution and urban sprawl continues without taking efforts to save these endangered animals, they could indeed vanish out in the wild. This Feb. 2014, a research team will be starting an intense 3-month search in an attempt to locate where these axolotl may be "hiding" in their natural habitats, if they do remain in any considerable numbers anymore.



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