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Des Plaines River Shrimp: Freshwater Critters Discovered In Lake County For The First Time

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DES PLAINES RIVER SHRIMP
Mississippi grass shrimp were found in the Des Plaines River in southern Lake County. (US Geological Survey) | Lake County Forest Preserve

While creatures like Northern Pike and Bluegill are common in Lake County, Ill., the tiny freshwater shrimp recently discovered in the Des Plaines River are something of a fish out of water.

On Thursday, the Lake County Forest Preserve announced they had found freshwater shrimp in the river, reports the Lake County News-Sun. According to the forest preserve's release:

"During stream monitoring this past summer, Nick Huber and other ecologists of the Lake County Forest Preserves discovered several dozen Mississippi grass shrimp, Palaimonetes kadikensis, in a forest preserve along the Des Plaines River in southern Lake County. Due to the fact that you can see right through them, this species is also commonly referred to as glass shrimp."

The Des Plaines River shrimp were the first documented find of the species in Lake County, prompting the LCFPD to happily exclaim via Facebook last week "It's NO WAY Thursday!" accompanied by a photo of the creature.

The inch-long crustaceans were unrecognizable to ecologists at first, according to the LCFPD. The translucent critter was thought to be a rare species, but after examining the shrimp using high-power magnification "to count tiny body parts nearly invisible to the naked eye," it was positively identified.

According to the Illinois State Museum, the small shrimp live in backwater lakes feeding on plant life and "are so transparent that you can see green plant material in their intestines."

Mississippi grass shrimp like the dozen or so found in the Des Plaines River have been rather uncommon in Illinois due to soil erosion that has clouded the water and killed many of the plants the shrimp feed on. The LCFPD calls the shrimp's discovery "encouraging" as their presence is an indication of cleaner water and improving habitat around the Des Plaines River area.

According to the LCFPD, the only other known locations are in the Kankakee River and Otter Creek in Kane County.

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