MEXICO CITY, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Biologists from Mexico's National Autonomous University fear that the salamander-like axolotl known as the Mexico “water monster” may have disappeared from its natural habitat in Lake Xochimilco near Mexico City.
Also known as the "Mexican walking fish," the most recent three-month attempt to locate the axolotl came up empty. Lake Xochimilco, actually a network of lakes and canals once home to the Aztecs' "floating gardens," is currently afflicted with pollution.
Even though they may no longer exist in the wild, the axolotls still survive in captivity.
One of the biologists from the National Autonomous University, Luis Zambrano, said in 2012 that for every 60 axolotls counted in 1998, researchers could find only one 10 years later.
The Mexican Academy of Sciences said just 100 water monsters were found in the 2008 survey.
“They are about to go extinct,” biologist Sandra Balderas Arias said.
The water monsters live on a diet of aquatic insects, small fish and crustaceans, and millions of them used to live in Lake Xochimilco as well as Lake Chalco. The odd-looking fish, which has four legs for dragging itself along is named after Xolotl, the Aztec god of death and fire.
Despite their lack of success, researchers are planning another three-month search for the water monster.
[New York Times]