Sculpins, as a group, are bottom-dwelling fishes that lack a swim bladder. Their flattened bodies and enlarged pectoral fins are adaptations for maintaining a position in stream currents. They are able to modify their color to match their background and are difficult to see as they lie on the stream bottom.
Grotto sculpins live in and around 5 caves and one stream in Perry County. Like their more pigmented relatives, they are bottom-dwellers, but they are specially adapted for life in caves.
Land use around sinkholes has a profound impact on ground water quality and sculpin health. Sinkholes supply water to cave streams and groundwater sources. This makes sinkhole pollution control imperative. Establishing a buffer of trees and other plants around sinkholes reduces soil erosion and filters out herbicide and pesticide runoff.
Other conservation efforts include protecting a cave's recharge area (the area of land through which water moves into springs or caves), minimizing disturbance to cave wildlife, and protecting cave entrances.
For a single cave system, the recharge area can be many miles wide. Pollutants, such as agricultural chemicals and animal waste, roadway runoff, leaking septic tanks, contaminants from trash thrown into sinkholes, and even excess silt from a variety of construction and agricultural earthworks, can seep into the groundwater, polluting caves, springs, and well water.