Fish in desert oases?
January 17, 2015 6:03 PM   Subscribe

Do oases in deserts such as the Sahara or in Arabia have fish?

I'm not referring to streams, or wadis or dams.
posted by dhruva to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I don't know about the Sahara or Arabia, but Fish Springs ("an oasis in the Great Basin Desert in western Utah") has a non-introduced fish population left over from 14000 years ago when it wasn't isolated from other marine ecosystems.
posted by russm at 6:17 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Came in to say Fish Springs! So it's possible, if fish were there in a larger incarnation of the oasis long ago. I would also guess that fish could come from an underground connection, eagles dropping a catch in a lucky spot, and human introduction.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:20 PM on January 17, 2015

The ones listed here for Northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula are either well populated or only support vegetation (based on my inexpert and brief scan of most them).
posted by stinkfoot at 6:21 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

There's also the Devils Hole Pupfish. It lives in one small spring in Nevada. There are less than 100 of them in the whole world.
posted by scruss at 6:26 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Googling brings up several links which indicate yes.

A permanent oasis would be quite likely to have a smaller species that has evolved to endure Saharan conditions. Most likely, any larger fish wouldn't make it, either because it's harder to maintain a large body mass under straitened conditions, or because of fishing pressure by nomads and travelers.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:10 PM on January 17, 2015

Best answer: Oh yes! One even has crocodiles!.
posted by smoke at 7:14 PM on January 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Another example:
In the Faiyum Oasis is Birket Qarun (Arabic for Lake of Qarun), which abounds in fish, notably bulti, of which considerable quantities are sent to Cairo. In ancient times this lake was much larger, and the ancient Greeks and Romans called it Lake Moeris.
However, the depression containing the Faiyum Oasis is probably larger than the oases you are envisioning -- it covers over 1200 km^2.
posted by Nerd of the North at 8:25 PM on January 17, 2015

I've seen lots of fish in the San Ignacio oasis in Baja. They might have been introduced but were probably there before the Spanish because the indigenous locals were hunter-gatherers.
posted by anadem at 9:59 PM on January 17, 2015

Best answer: Terjit in Mauritania has them. They like to nibble on your toes. No idea how they got there though.
posted by iamck at 11:20 PM on January 17, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks, all. I trawled through the scientific literature, and information was remarkably hard to come by.
posted by dhruva at 6:18 AM on January 18, 2015

No idea how they got there though.

I read that fish eggs stick to duck feet and that is how fish are found in high mountain lakes/rivers. Maybe migratory waterfowl have these oases 'marked down' on their migration maps.
posted by guy72277 at 6:30 AM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

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