Thanks to heavy rains brought to California by Tropical Storm Hilary, 22-legged crustaceans are swimming about at Joshua Tree National Park.
“Shrimp in the desert? Yup,” rangers said in a Sept. 12 Facebook post.
After the storm brought about 1 to 4 inches of rain throughout the park, fairy shrimp were found lurking in the waters of Barker Dam reservoir, which was “bone dry” prior to the heavy rain, rangers said.
“Fairy shrimp eggs can lie dormant for years in the soil of dry pools and potholes,” rangers said. “Once they fill with water and the right conditions occur, these eggs can activate, hatch, grow, and mature.”
Before the pool of water dries again, female fairy shrimp will lay eggs, called cysts, according to The National Wildlife Federation.
With protective coverings that guard the cysts from “extreme environmental conditions,” they “remain viable for multiple years,” according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The eggs will stay in the dry pool bed until rains spur their hatching, the agency says.
“This strategy allows them to avoid predators that can’t survive in such a temporary habitat,” the wildlife federation says.
The 1-inch, translucent critters with “11 pairs of appendages” are found in pools in Oregon and California, according to the federation.