The shores of Point Reyes are full of rocky cliffs. These cliffs create large, rocky intertidal zones that harbor a variety of hardy crustaceans. The animals most commonly associated with subphylum Crustacea are the bigger members such as shrimp and crabs, but Crustacea also includes important members that are only visible with a microscope. Crustaceans have a couple of defining qualities. They have segmented bodies with hardened shells which are regularly shed. Their limbs have two branches to them, and they have two pairs of antennae. Six classes make up the subphylum Crustacea and are by far the most dominant arthropod on earth. Members of all of the classes inhabit the waters of Point Reyes, but only some can be easily found.
Fairy Shrimp, Tadpole Shrimp, Water Fleas, & Clam Shrimp
The class Branchiopoda has some marine representatives that can be found more easily with a microscope and a water sample. The easiest way to see them is to buy some fish food. They are often used for aquariums and labeled “brine shrimp” or “sea monkeys”. The marine animals in this group often look like shrimp, but they are much smaller and a greater food source.