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Rain in Alice

Alice Springs - Northern Territory, Australia Travel

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Rainfall is a rare occurrence in Central Australia compared to other parts of the continent, yet when it does rain and depending on the amount of rainfall, former dry channels, sandy riverbeds and claypans fill with water. Such bodies of water is ephemeral, and many creatures have evolved to cope with how quickly the water evaporates. Many frog species can mate, lay eggs, with the resultant tadpoles growing to maturity as young frogs within 14 days. Another creature with a similar lifespan is the Shield Shrimp, the eggs being able to survive dry drought conditions for many years.

Following are some images of the this unique creature.

Shield shrimp (Triops australiensis) in the claypans - January 2010
The rain over the first week and a half of January, 2010, saw not only the Todd River flowing but the claypans south of the West MacDonnell Range fill with water. When the claypans fill with water, there is often the opportunity to catch a glimpse of other forms of life, including these Shield Shrimp.

These crustaceans can be found throughout Central Australia, starting life in ephemeral water ways and claypans. The eggs of the Shield Shrimp can survive long periods without rain, in arid, drought conditions, being blown around by wind, just waiting for the next big rains. Once rain falls, the egg hatches and the shield shrimp grow quickly, feeding off rotting vegetation and other detritus. Once the water has evaporated, the Shield Shrimps die, leaving behind just their eggs, waiting for the next cycle. Shield Shrimps have even been found on the summit of Uluru.

Shield shrimp (Triops australiensis) in the claypans.

Shield shrimp (Triops australiensis) in the claypans.

Shield shrimp (Triops australiensis) in Central Australia.

The underside of the Shield shrimp (Triops australiensis).

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