By Brynn Walling, USFWS
We are now four months into our year-long commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, and this week we’re highlighting the state with the highest number of endangered and threatened animals — California.
You may already know about some of the rare animals of the Golden State, like the California condor or the desert tortoise, but there are hundreds of unique species that call this state home — many of them occur nowhere else in the world!
The vernal pool fairy shrimp. (Photo: Dwight Harvey/USFWS)
An example is vernal pool fairy shrimp. Like its name suggests, this tiny crustacean lives in vernal pools, some as small as a puddle, and others the size of a small lake. The term ‘fairy’ comes from its ability to gracefully swim on its back. Actually, you will only find this species swimming on their back!
One reason this species is less recognizable than other species is because of its size, only growing up to an inch in length! Also, because they live in vernal pools they must reproduce fairly quickly before the pool dries up in the summer. When the pools dry up, the vernal fairy shrimp aren’t able to survive, but the eggs, called cysts, that females lay, are able to withstand the heat and dryness of the summer. Once the pools fill back up, these cysts hatch and the cycle continues.
Learn about recovery efforts for the vernal pool fairy shrimp, and other endangered and threatened species in California.
Each week, throughout this ruby anniversary year of the Endangered Species Act, we’ll highlight stories of conservation success in every state across the country. Stay tuned!