If found anywhere else this might be regarded as nothing more than a small puddle of water, but in Canyonlands National Park it’s an entire ecosystem. Ephemeral pools, like this one, are also known as “potholes” and sustain a large variety of resilient desert life forms. In some cases, the life forms that call these puddles home have a life span dictated by the amount of time water remains before drying out.
In the case of the Fairy Shrimp (pictured below), they hatch from their cryptobiotic eggs, grow to maturity, and have eggs of their own in about two weeks. The eggs then hatch at different intervals, insuring that life goes on even if the pothole should dry out before the next generation has time to mature. According to vernalpool.org, the eggs in their cryptobiotic state can hatch after as long as 15 years and can withstand temperatures ranging from -190 to 99 degrees Celsius.
The picture above was taken on the Pothole Point Trail. It is a short and easy hike in the Needles Area of Canyonlands National Park. If you choose to go see these potholes, be careful not to step in them regardless of if they are wet or dry. The creatures here are resilient, but can’t survive our intrusion.