Fairy Shrimp – our playa neighbors

2017 – Year of Water and Fairy Shrimp!

2017 has been an interesting year on the playa!   The rains that we received this winter gave us several treats.  First many burners got to take kayak’s out on the temporary lake that covered our desert home!   While out there and as the waters receded, a few got a first hand opportunity to see the mysterious Fairy Shrimp!

The video below shows Michael Myers (Executive Director of Friends of Black Rock and aEarth Guardian Volunteer) searching for Fairy Shrimp!

By Georg Ossian Sars, zoologist and taxonomist from Norway – Fauna Norvegiae (1896)

What are Fairy Shrimp?

Fairy shrimp are relatives of brine shrimp, which back in the 1960s were marketed as Sea-Monkeys to children and said to “magically” come alive when mixed with water.

They are amazing since they can survive, for months or even years on dry lake beds through the heat of summer or through a frozen winter until enough rain falls and the pools of water return. Once they are alive, they live a few weeks, mating and leaving behind tiny cyst-like eggs, and die.

The effects of the drenched playa this last year was an unnaturally high spawning of fairy shrimp, which grew large enough to see and touch!

What Do they Look Like?

There are many web sites with pictures and drawings of Fairy Shrimp.  The picture on the right is an early but amazing drawing by Zoologist George Sars from Norway.  Even better, Scirpus, one of the leaders of our LNT outreach and compliance team, is also a Land Fellow at Fly Ranch.  While exploring the area this spring, she managed to get a video of these guys in action!  They are so cool, they typically swim belly up, but seem to also move around in a cool twisty way.  Check out her video!

More Information

There is a lot of fascinating information about Fairy Shrimp out there on the Internet!  Fairy Shrimp, aka Sea Monkeys, went into space aboard Space Shuttle Discovery with astronaut John Glenn on October 29, 1998.  After spending nine days in space,  they returned to Earth and hatched eight weeks later, unaffected by their time in zero gravity.



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