Rare, blind catfish never seen in US captured in South Texas cave (w/video)

Pair of Mexican blindcats found in cave near Del Rio

SAN ANTONIO – An extremely rare eyeless catfish only known to exist in Mexico has been discovered in a South Texas cave, scientists say.

The pair, identified as Mexican blindcats, were collected from Amistad National Recreation Area near Del Rio last month.  

They have been moved to a special facility at the San Antonio zoo with cave-like conditions, according to a press release from the UT-Austin College of Natural Sciences.  

The rare, 3-inch, light-pink fish was first spotted in Texas in a cave in April 2015 by Jack Johnson with the National Park Service.  

“Since the 1960s there have been rumors of sightings of blind, white catfishes in that area, but this is the first confirmation,” said Dean Hendrickson, curator of ichthyology at UT-Austin. Hendrickson and his department identified the fish.   

Mexican blindcats were originally discovered in Mexico in 1954 and were listed as endangered by both Mexico and the United States. 

Cave-dwelling animals like the Mexican blindcat astound scientists because they have lost features that most people would consider necessary for survival, including eyes, colors to camouflage and speed. 

“They have found an ecological niche where none of those things are needed," said biologist Peter Sprouse, of Zara Environmental LLC, one of the leaders of an expedition that found the fish last month. "They have evolved extrasensory abilities to succeed in total darkness.”

The pair of blindcats are not yet on public display at the San Antonio Zoo, according to the release.

About the Authors

RJ Marquez is the traffic anchor/reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He also fills in as a news anchor and has covered stories from breaking news and Fiesta to Spurs championships and high school sports. RJ started at KSAT in 2010. He is proud to serve our viewers and be a part of the culture and community that makes San Antonio great.

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