Millions of Triops australiensis aka the shield shrimps have sprung back to life after a heavy desert rain in Central Australian desert near Alice Springs.
The shrimps, which belong to a group of crustaceans called “branchiopods”, were spotted by Parks and Wildlife follower Nick Morgan who sent in some amazing photos of these shrimps as he encountered near Alice Springs. These shrimps have “gill feet” that enables them to breathe.
The stunning thing about these shrimps is that their eggs are quite resilient to desert conditions and can stay dormant for up to seven years in such harsh weather. One significant rain and these eggs hatch bringing about a population explosion and increasing the population of these shrimps by millions overnight and can be found teeming in the temporary pools and water filled clay pans.
The “shield” is a carapace that protects the head and frontal portion of the multi-segmented body, notes the Queensland Museum. Females carry their eggs under the body but otherwise the sexes are alike. The eggs are highly resistant to drying out, and they can survive for many years in the desert clay before hatching. Colour is typically olive green to brown. Adult shrimp reach about 90 mm in body length.
“They can turn up in the absolute millions upon millions,” expert Michael Barritt told ABC Radio Darwin. “These are eggs that can dry out and get blown by the wind. They deal with all the kinds of extreme temperatures that inland Australia gets, including high temperatures and low temperatures at night in the wintertime.”