Meet the Riverside fairy shrimp, the latest endangered shrimp found at Costa Mesa’s Fairview Park

Aided by the recent rains, Costa Mesa city officials announced Friday that they have identified a type of fairy shrimp in Fairview Park not previously seen there and a location where the endangered crustaceans hadn’t yet been discovered.

For the first time, city officials documented Riverside fairy shrimp in one of the park’s vernal pools, which are essentially seasonal wetlands.

A different species, San Diego fairy shrimp, previously was found in the 208-acre park.

Both species are listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Along with the discovery of Riverside fairy shrimp, city Public Services Director Raja Sethuraman said the city for the first time found San Diego fairy shrimp in a vernal pool east of Placentia Avenue.

The Riverside variety was discovered during an extensive survey of the park’s vernal pools throughout the recent rainy season, Sethuraman said Friday.

He said “there are very few concentrations of these shrimp” in Southern California, even in Riverside County, where they originally were found.

“We were excited to find it in our pool here,” he said.

Ten vernal pools have been identified in Fairview Park — seven on the west side of Placentia Avenue and three to the east, according to Sethuraman.

Mayor Pro Tem Sandy Genis said she was excited to hear about the discovery. The presence of another endangered species in Fairview Park, she said, validates local voters’ decision last year to approve Measure AA, which requires voter approval for several changes that could be proposed at the park.

“Next year maybe we’ll have ‘Costa Mesa fairy shrimp’ if we get enough rain,” she said with a laugh.

Tony Bomkamp, a senior biologist with Glenn Lukos Associates who consults with the city on Fairview Park, said the Riverside shrimp likely evaded discovery up to this point because “there’s never been the level of surveys that we just did this year.”

“San Diego fairy shrimp is a cold-water species, so it comes out in December and January, when the water is very cold,” he said. “Then Riverside fairy shrimp tend to come out more in February.”

Riverside fairy shrimp are slightly larger than their San Diego counterparts and can be distinguished by a reddish tint around their tail appendages. They also tend to live longer — two to three months, compared with three to four weeks for a typical San Diego fairy shrimp.

The recent rainy weather will help the city better identify and mark the boundaries of Fairview Park’s vernal pools, Sethuraman said.

“We currently have temporary fencing around the vernal pools, but we are working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife to further define them,” he said. “Based on the rains, we know what the extent of these pools should be and we’ll be working ... to designate and identify the appropriate boundaries for these pools.”

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