Have you ever heard of the longtailed tadpole shrimp? They thrive in one of the most lonesome places. #longtailedtadpoleshrimp #tadpoleshrimp #tinajas #thewave #Arizona #desert #design #Creator #devotional #naturelover

Have you ever heard of the longtailed tadpole shrimp? They thrive in one of the most lonesome places.

Have you ever heard of the longtailed tadpole shrimp? They thrive in one of the most lonesome places. #longtailedtadpoleshrimp #tadpoleshrimp #tinajas #thewave #Arizona #desert #design #Creator #devotional #naturelover

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

Ezekiel 37:5-6

In Search of The Wave

“I can’t believe we’re leaving tomorrow morning!” one of the ladies in our group enthused.

“And I can’t believe one of us actually won the lottery to get in,” another said.

“Have you read through the emails I sent you?” our group organizer asked.

“Every word,” I assured her. “Do we still need to attend the orientation meeting the day before the hike?”

“No,” she said. “As long as everyone in the group has read the literature, we don’t need to attend the meeting.”

“Watch for the markers, don’t get lost, keep your passes visible, carry plenty of water, don’t pick or pick up anything, and stay out of the water,” I summarized.

“I wonder why we have to stay out of the water?”

“The longtailed tadpole shrimp!” the rest of us said, almost in unison.

“Never heard of them, but I hope we see one!”

“Same here,” I said and then promptly forgot about them in the flurry of preparing our gear for the next morning’s early departure. Our goal? Reach The Wave by sunrise.

It takes planning to get to The Wave, a unique rock formation in the Coyote Buttes North section of the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness area. We wanted to start our hike in the dark so we could avoid hot, mid-day temperatures and hopefully have the place to ourselves for a while.

Four women, two GPS tracking systems, and sharp eyes kept us on track as we headed out to The Wave the following morning. As we hiked, the sky gently changed from star-studded black velvet to midnight blue and, finally, sunrise peach. We scrambled up the final hill to the wave and stopped in wonder.

Longtailed Tadpole Shrimp Live in That Tiny Pool?

A beautiful tinaja turned the entrance into a shimmering infinity pool of towering rock and sublime blue skies. After taking dozens of pictures, we carefully inched around the tinaja, wanting to respect anything lurking in the water.

Hours later, I went back to the pool and glanced down. A fat, creepy creature wiggled in a pool of sunlight. About the length of my index finger, it looked like a cross between a horseshoe crab and a shrimp. Another one fluttered in the tinaja, and I started snapping photos. I wondered how they could survive in the harsh, high desert environment.

According to the literature we read before coming, the temperatures in the Coyote Buttes North area could swing from below-freezing in the winter to over 115˚  in the summer. The tinaja at the entrance to The Wave looked about six inches deep at the deepest part. What happens to the shrimp when the water evaporates?

Designed for Lonesome Places

Once we returned to cell service, I started researching. Longtailed tadpole shrimp can reproduce three different ways: the regular boy meets girl way, through parthenogenesis—asexual reproduction either from the egg of a female or the sperm of a male. , or through fertilization from a hermaphrodite longtailed tadpole shrimp.

Because of the harsh, lonesome environment of the desert, longtailed tadpole shrimp eggs act almost like seeds. They have a tough outer shell and must dry completely before they become viable. Once they dry out, they can enter a state of diapause for up to 20 years. Diapause means the eggs remain dormant but viable until the conditions make hatching possible.

Longtailed tadpole shrimp feed on anything smaller than themselves—mosquito larvae, rotting vegetation, algae, and small insects. Farmers in Japan use them to eat weeds in their rice paddies. Frogs and birds (or even larger members of their own species) prey on longtailed tadpole shrimp.

Without their adaptive reproduction system and the ability of the eggs to enter a state of diapause, longtailed tadpole shrimp wouldn’t survive very long in lonesome desert landscapes. The more I delve into the intricacies of nature, the more I see the hand of a Designer.

I see hope in the fascinating life cycle of the long-tailed tadpole shrimp. No matter how dry and lifeless we become, water—the symbol of the Holy Spirit—can bring us back to life again.

Have you ever heard of the longtailed tadpole shrimp? They thrive in one of the most lonesome places. #longtailedtadpoleshrimp #tadpoleshrimp #tinajas #thewave #Arizona #desert #design #Creator #devotional #naturelover

Father God, help me remember that if you can take an ordinary organism and bring it back to life after decades, you can shelter and carry me through my dry and lonesome places.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

You may also like

%d bloggers like this: