Fresh Water Fairy Shrimps
Opposite Lilies Water Gardens in Newdigate is a woodland trust wood called Hammonds Copse, it’s a place I have visited hundreds of times since the age of 7. Unfortunately I witnessed the removal of large areas of natural woodland and these clearings were replanted with tiny evergreen fir trees, today they are giants and the woodland is managed well with a mixture of evergreen and deciduous trees. The clearings where you could see half a mile from one side to the other have long gone. Many years ago, while out for a walk along a bridle path, something quite amazing caught my attention. A temporary deep puddle left by the indentation of a vehicle wheel sometime in the past was moving with very strange freshwater creatures. They were swimming upside down, about an inch long and had distinct bulbous black eyes and certainly something I had never seen before, and something I not seen again since. They were a in fact a very adaptable fresh water creature that has been in existence for over 100 million years. These rarely seen protected creatures are fresh water fairy shrimps, Latin name Chirocephalus Diaphanus.
Fairy shrimps have a remarkable way of surviving, their eggs can survive dormant in the soil of dried out puddles and pools for decades, or even soil where puddles and pools no longer exist. The puddle I found my shrimps in was created by a forest vehicle, so who knows how long the shrimp eggs had been surviving in their dormant state. The amazing thing is when new or existing puddles and woodland pools fill with water, these creatures spring to life. The eggs hatch within 48 hours and tiny fairy shrimps just about visible to the naked eye start to grow. They can breed from about 3 weeks and can live 3 or 4 months. They have loads of predators and if the pool or puddle dries up after a week or two it is not an issue as fairy shrimps have another survival technique. Only a certain amount of eggs hatch, the rest will just go dormant again until the next rains arrive or a new puddle is created.
Now that is amazing!
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