A Visit to the Cave and Basin area of Banff National Park

BNelsonStarred Page By BNelson, 22nd Aug 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3n9vud7o/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>North America>Canada>Alberta & The Rockies

Learn how tampering with nature may have caused the extinction of yet another species, this one the Banff Longnose Dace, as I recount my visit to Banff's Cave and Basin area.

Visiting Banff Many Years Ago

Just over 30 years ago, my father, a scientist, took our family on a fish collecting trip to Banff, Alberta. For those of you who are not familiar with Banff, it is a National Park in Canada's Rocky Mountains, as well as a town site. As you can imagine, temperatures here in the winter are below freezing, and yet we were there to collect tropical fish from the wild in the middle of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Now you might wonder about what kind of tropical fish could possibly be native to this area, and indeed none are. However at some point people had illegally dumped their unwanted tropical fish into the hot springs and they were surviving in the warm waters that formed in the pond behind a beaver dam.

At that time we collected (in the name of science as my father worked for the University of Alberta), many different species of fish. Guppies were very rare, mollies were common in a certain area, mosquito fish (which look like female guppies) were very common, and Cichlids were in an isolated, warm, location.

Mosquito fish were intentionally introduced to control mosquitoes in 1924.

My Recent Visit

As you may have already read, my husband and I recently went on a trip from our home near Edmonton to Vancouver. We made many stops along the way. I was really wanting to stop at Banff to see the Cave and Basin area as I had not visited since I was a child.

The area had changed, the water in the pond was lower (I gather 20 years ago or so the beaver dam had broken lowering the water level of the pond) as well there was a proper boardwalk and viewing areas, none of which existed when my father took us to study and identify the fish in the pond.

The mosquito fish were the certainly the most abundant; we did not see any Cichlids or guppies, but noted quite a few Mollies. There was a sign indicating Banff Longnose Dace, but these fish were declared extinct in 1987, very likely the introduced mosquito fish out competed this species as well as ate the young fry. I guess the Dodo bird extinction taught us nothing...

Other Information and Links

I was thrilled to get back to the area, I have visited Banff lots but for some reason never went up to the cave and basin area, which is just a few minutes from the town of Banff.

To anyone thinking of dumping their tropical fish into these warm waters, this is illegal. Collecting these fish for your aquarium is not a good idea (illegal because Banff is a National Park) as you could bring diseases into your aquarium.

Read some Interesting Facts on Banff

And although they are pesky, read Why We Need Mosquitoes!


Alberta, Attraction, Banff, Basin, Canada, Cave, Extinction, Fish, Hot Spring, Mollies, Molly, Mosquito, Park, Pet, Pets, Release, Species, Tourist, Tropical, Types

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author avatar BNelson
I write on many topics but am mostly interested in pets and animals.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
23rd Aug 2012 (#)

Thanks for the nice share - siva

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
23rd Aug 2012 (#)

Interesting info.Thanx for sharing.

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author avatar Rose*
27th Nov 2013 (#)

I hadn't heard of mosquito fish before. Banff national Park sounds like it's a bit of a treasure.

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