Have you heard of fairy shrimp? They are found only in vernal pools in the woods of Michigan.

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Just when I think I have heard of everything found in the woods in Michigan, I just learned about fairy shrimp and no I didn't make this up.

What is a Vernal Pool?

Reflections in flood water in forest setting
David Johnson/Getty Images/iStockphoto

From the looks of this photo, I have vernal pools on my property. If you are unfamiliar with what a vernal pool is, it's an area of shallow water usually found in the spring up until the winter. You find these if the woods and some fields. They will often dry up in the warmer months but animals will often use them as a water source.

What is a Fairy Shrimp?

Phototrip/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Phototrip/Getty Images/iStockphoto

A fairy shrimp is a freshwater crustacean that lives in vernal pools and is found all around the world. They range from a quarter inch up to an inch in size. They have 11 pairs of swimming legs and swim upside down. They feed on organic particles they filter from the pools of water. Birds, fish, and frogs eat them. They are often harvested to use to make fish food. There are 300 different species of fairy shrimp.

Fairy shrimps. Anostraca. Vishapur fort, Maharashtra, India.
ePhotocorp/Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you haven't seen a fairy shrimp before, below is some excellent footage:

MLive reported that these vernal ponds act as little coral reefs in our woods in Michigan. Offering a diverse group of lifeforms to live while the water is in the pool or hold seeds until the water comes back and the ponds regroup.

These vernal ponds are an important part of Michigan's landscape and ecosystem. They either feed wildlife or help sustain it where its animals, birds, or plants.

How Long Does a Fairy Shrimp Live?

Spent the morning photographing a vernal Pool
Myer Bornstein/Getty Images

You will start finding fairy shrimp in vernal pools in late March and early April. Their eggs are buried in leaf litter and once they hatch in the spring, the life expectancy is only for a couple of weeks where they mate, lay eggs and repeat the same process each year.

Can You Eat Fairy Shrimp?

Fairy Shrimp are too small but I guess if it were a case of survival and that is all you had, you might be able to sustain yourself for a day if you eat enough of them. These are really not for humans to eat but for ducks, birds, and amphibians that use the vernal pool as a food source. Red Lobster and Long John Silvers won't be adding fairy shrimp to the menu anytime soon.

CHECK IT OUT: Huge Underwater Sinkhole Near Alpena


READ MORE: 10 Things You Should Never Ask a Michigander

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