A new family was erected for this primitive-looking species (pictured here), and its discovery caused quite a stir in the hallowed halls of carcinology! This unique shrimp, along with a new species of the shrimp genus Typhlatya, was collected from a series of about ten inland marine pools in the SW corner of Ascension, the largest pool approximately 6 meters in diameter and about one half of a meter deep. The bottom of this pool was covered in a thick layer of marl-like material (Chace & Manning, 1972). Manning visited Ascension in 1971 and collected several specimens of each species. Then, in 1975, five of us (Ray Manning, Meredith Jones. Joe Rosewater, Tony Provenzano (Univ. of Miami), and I visited Ascension, and we made some more collections from these very interesting pools.
After trekking through a very rough volcanic larva field, we approached the largest pool, and we were astonished to see, sticking up out of the water, three mangrove seedlings. They were well established in the marl, evenly spaced, about 1 meter apart, and they were in a perfectly straight line. We knew that: 1) no mangroves had ever been reported in the past from Ascension, and 2) among the residents of the British and American bases on Ascension, there were numerous very keen keepers of marine aquaria, and some of these people had brought live marine animals and plants to Ascension from their home countries, and 3) some resident aquarists visited these pools regularly, to collect shrimps to feed their aquarium denizens.
We sat beside the pool, studied the mangroves, and talked. Had these mangrove seedlings been carried naturally to Ascension by surface ocean currents, and thrown inland by the frequently violent wave action? If so, what were the chances of all three of them ending up in a perfectly straight line, and in the very center of the same pool? Instead, could a local aquarist have brought the seedlings to Ascension in his luggage, and planted them there? If so, why? To create a new type of habitat, to attract interesting animals? We knew that if these healthy-looking mangroves flourished, they would greatly alter the pool habitats, and perhaps the extraordinary and unique Procaris and Typhlatya would be wiped out. I guess we talked and argued for about an hour, and then, finally, we took a vote. It was unanimous: goodbye mangroves! We uprooted the seedlings and destroyed them.
We all felt a little uncertain and guilty; even now, 38 years later, I feel a twinge of guilt as I recall the “great uprooting”. Did we do the right thing? Did we indeed interfere with a natural event, and perhaps permanently deprive Ascension of a new, complex, and fascinating coastal habitat?
Another example of man’s inhumanity to man-groves!
by Dave Pawson