Freshwater shrimp of the Los Angeles River
September 27, 2008 § 5 Comments
Are extinct. Of course.
But exciting news to me nonetheless. This morning I went to give a talk to a group of educators and nonprofit organizations in a Partners program with the Natural History Museum/George C. Page Museum. But it was I who learned so much, and wish we could have spent more time talking about the fascinating ways Los Angele’s culture, history, and ecology crash into each other, creating so much dynamism and interest.
I was stunned by a photograph of the Los Angeles River shrimp, bka the Pasadena freshwater shrimp (Syncaris Holmes, reclassified as Syncaris pasadenae*, that the Natural History Museum has in its collection, collected circa 1900. It was once common to our lower elevation streams. If you went to the L.A.: Light/Motion/Dreams exhibit you may have seen the actual specimen. Was this a food source for the Tongva? Had we tended our rivers and streams instead of concreted them, could we have cultivated this as a food source for us? It speaks to the rich biodiversity that is native to this home of ours, if only we can appreciate and protect it. By the way, a quick web search has shown that there is also a surviving cousin Syncaris holmes pacifica, California freshwater shrimp up in coastal northern California streams. I will refrain from tired – but accurate? – North/South comparisons.
*J. W. Martin and M. K. Wicksten, “Review and Redescription of the Freshwater Atyid Shrimp Genus Syncaris Holmes, 1900, in California,” Journal of Crustacean Biology (Summer 2004): 447–62.