This small organism was found in a vernal pool in Maryland, along with hundreds of companions. This creature is a fairy shrimp, a small crustacean that can be found in vernal pools and lakes. They are an important food source for both fish and birds that frequent these vernal pools or lakes.

Interestingly, fairy shrimp can enter a state of dormancy in their egg stage called diapause where their growth and metabolism is paused. Once in diapause, fairy shrimp can survive for decades, waiting for the right conditions to mature. Once the right conditions are found, the eggs hatch and the fairy shrimp grow quickly before their habitat dries out or changes too much. Normally within 3 weeks, they are able to breed and begin the cycle again.

If you see something blooming, leafing out, ripening, or otherwise changing in your woods, send us photos ( to include in next month’s Forests for the Bay newsletter for more phenological fun!