Fairy Shrimp in the Los Angeles River area!!!

April 18, 2010
Yesterday, we went on an excursion with our dear friend Susan’s family because daughter Violet wants to find tadpoles.  We thought the new natural area of the Rio de los Angeles State Park in Cypress Park would be a great place to find them because we can hear the frogs croaking each night from our Mount Washington home.  Alas, we drew a blank in the tadpole search, but we did see tiny creatures swimming in the pond.  When we scooped them up in a cup, we were surprised to see Fairy Shrimp, and upon returning home, a websearch led us to a page on the endangered Riverside Fairy Shrimp on the Center for Biological Diversity website.  Now we are curious about how Fairy Shrimps wound up in our newly created park.  We will be contacting our friends at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County for their opinion, and we hope to return later today with a camera.  We imagine water collected there in the spring before the creation of the park, so the eggs may have been in the dirt naturally.  Perhaps the Fairy Shrimp were introduced on the feet of water fowl.  it is most curious.
Stay tuned.

Fairy Shrimp

Update:  April 18, 2010
Today we returned to the vernal pond, though we believe it is kept wet year round, and we captured a small plastic container of Fairy Shrimp and photographed them.  We had three large shrimp and several smaller shrimp in the container, and two of the Fairy Shrimps are males.  Males have large mandibles that they use to hang onto the females during mating.  In our first photo, you can see the outlines of the mandibles in the shadows of the two individuals on the left.

Fairy Shrimps

Fairy Shrimps are graceful creatures that swim on their backs while their appendages undulate, propelling them through the water.  We hope to hear back from some local naturalists, Julian Donahue and Clare Marter Kenyon, and our friends at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County regarding the presence of Fairy Shrimp in the Rio de los Angeles State Park adjacent to the Los Angeles River in the Cypress Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.  The sighting map on the Vernal Pool Fairy Shrimp website does not list any occurrences in the Los Angeles area for Fairy Shrimp, Branchinecta lynchi, but it does stress the need for habitat conservation.

Fairy Shrimp

Fairy Shrimp in the Footprint of the High Speed Rail!!!
In continuing to search for information on the Fairy Shrimp in Los Angeles County, we stumbled upon a website concerning the High Speed Rail, and Envirogridlock provided this comment:  “What, no fairy shrimp, steelhead trout, Pacific pocketmice or gnatcatchers are in the rail’s footprint?  Or have the environazis turned their heads for this project because it fits their agenda?
”  Coincidentally, the Rio de Los Angeles state park is adjacent to a proposed route of the High Speed Rail.

Julian Donahue points us to an expert
April 26, 2010
Sure. Chris Nagano is in the USFWS Endangered Species office in Sacramento, at:
He used to volunteer at the Museum and knows me well.

Lila Higgins from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles finds some information
April 26, 2010
Hi Lila, yes fairy shrimp  (Branchiopoda).  They can’t be identified
further from the photo.  Yes, vernal pools this year have been well
watered and many are hatching.  Branchiopods encyst and can withstand
dry periods until the next seanson’s rains.  Where is Rio de los
Angeles State Park?
Also, you don’t want to miss Jody and my R&C seminar 6 May — we’ll
tell you lots about crustaceans.
Fairy shrimp might be something we want to consider for North Plaza.
Sea monkeys are their close relatives that live in hypersaline water.
Kids love hatching them.  Best, Regina

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