Freshwater shrimp of the Los Angeles River

September 27, 2008 § 5 Comments

Pasadena Freshwater Shrimp (Syncaris pasadenae), from abstract by Joel W. Martin and Mary K. Wicksten

Image from Joel Martin, Natural History Museum

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.


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

§ 5 Responses to Freshwater shrimp of the Los Angeles River

  • Joe Linton says:

    LOL on the North/South comparisons!

  • jishica says:

    I was happy to get – via 3rd party Sojin Kim of the Natural History Museum (the person who showed the photograph of the freshwater shrimp) – the following reaction from scientist Joel Martin, whose study and drawing of Syncaris pasadenae is featured here:

    “Thanks for the message! This little shrimp seems to interest a lot of people when they find out about it, and I’m glad that Jessica Hall enjoyed the story. I scrolled down to her Sept. 27 blog — always fun to see these things become something of interest to others! I enjoyed reading that; thanks for pointing me toward it.

    You’re right, the shrimp image in her blog is one of my drawings. I’ve been up into the San Bernardino Mountains and into some other drainages around here hoping to find some populations of it still living, but alas, it really does appear to be extinct. I plan to keep looking for it, though, just in case. I’d love to “rediscover” it alive somewhere. The northern species is very similar, though, and still living (but endangered and now highly protected).”

  • […] Jessica already broke this story months ago, but I figure we creek freaks can never have enough posts about freshwater shrimp, right? I can add […]

  • kurgen99 says:

    Hmm, I grew up on Laguna Road, and we used to see what we called “crayfish” in a little creak between Johnson’s Lake and the Pond at the end on Glen Summer. I wonder if…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Freshwater shrimp of the Los Angeles River at L.A. Creek Freak.


%d bloggers like this: