[Tweeters] Forest Shrimp

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Mon Mar 21 16:28:07 PDT 2016

It was many moons ago (like about five-hundred and forty) when I first discovered a wonderful creature in the forest. It was an exciting surprise, which I've never forgotten over all these years -it was a shrimp.
Now ,most people when hearing about shrimp, would take an imaginary trip to the seashore, where at a place like here in Port Townsend, you might find all sorts of shrimp , like the thousands of swarming Mysid shrimp I saw recently down at the pier, or maybe others along the shore - like the Broken-back, Coon-striped, Crangon, or even Bubba- Gump shrimp. (Ok, just kidding about that last one).
But Forest Shrimp? You see, those many moons ago when I was still a Spring Chicken, I was also a Vernal Fool - a fool for a vernal pool at least. A vernal pool, you might be wondering, is a transient freshwater pool - there in winter and spring, dried up and gone by summer. Around here many of them can be spotted by a surrounding growth of the showy evergreen sedge Carex obnupta - a real giveaway. But the real indicator of a vernal pool is the Fairy Shrimp - it's the only place you're ever gonna find one. Which is kind of cool really.
Anyhoo, back all those moons ago, when my nose was often pointed at the nearest body of water, I discovered these vernal shrimp. One of those places, decades ago, was out at nearby Fort Flagler, with sedgy vernal pools. Last year, snooping around the forest at Fort Townsend State Park, just south of town, I found a low sedgy spot, summer-dry, and put checking it out on my spring to-do list. Today, feeling lucky, I did.
And I was lucky. Got to the spot while a bit of sun lingered, and found the spot, with water in it! I stepped up to the shore and started snooping the pool. At first all I saw were a few mosquito pupae jerking around in the water. And then.....
And then I saw a Fairy Shrimp.... and another...and some more! The Fairy Shrimp isn't quite what you would have in a shrimp cocktail, but is a crustacean at least. About an inch long, they move slowly thru the water aided by a graceful rippling movement of 11 pairs of appendages along their body (which also gather oxygen). They have a pair of big shrimp-like eyes on sideways stalks, and a forked tail on the end of their translucent body. Interesting.
While watching the Fairies, I noted nearby Phantom Midge larvae - which is a cool aquatic larvae of a fly. These mostly transparent creatures can be hard to spot - they are only a bit less than a half inch long, but are predators of smaller pond creatures - they remind me of mini glass Gar's - or something like that. It's all a matter of perspective. Rain soon put a stop to my water watching, but was helping the pool.
I imagine that some tweeters might think (or hope) that the title to this post was referring to a tiny bird, like a Pacific Wren, which I didn't see any of, but heard a few. The place is mostly a dense coniferous forest (great plant spot) and not the greatest bird spot, but did see some Robins, mixed with Varied Thrushes, a Junco, and heard two Ravens. That was it in the Bird Department.
Jeff GibsonVernal fool, inPort Townsend Wa
PS: the fairy shrimp are likely of the genus Eubranchipus - just sayin'.

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