A long-gone rare crayfish reappears in an Alabama cave | MarketingwithAnoy

Historically, the Shelta Cave was one of the most diverse cave systems in the eastern United States. Long before Niemiller and other scientists came along, beetles, salamanders, shrimp, crayfish and other animals lived their days in darkness. Often blind and lacking in pigmentation, many cave-dwelling species live longer than their surface-dwelling relatives, thanks to slower metabolism – a common evolutionary adaptation to subterranean life. For example, the red swamp crayfish, the unfortunate star for many one Louisiana crawfish boils, can live up to five years in the swamps and ditches they call home. Shelta’s Southern Cave Cancer, O. australis, lives up to 22 yearsand it is believed that Shelta Cave crayfish have a similar lifespan.

A colony of gray bats also made the Shelta Cave their home. These adorable, furry “microbes” are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and deposited guano throughout the cave – a valuable food source for many of the other cave animals, including the Shelta Cave crayfish. For centuries, the balanced ecosystem of bats, crayfish and other Shelta Cave animals remained undisturbed.

Then came entrepreneur Henry M. Fuller. In 1888, Fuller bought the cave and named it after his daughter, according to Scott Shaw, who manages the Shelta Cave Nature Preserve. A year later, Fuller built a wooden dance floor and installed some of the city’s first electric lights in the cave, creating a popular entertainment destination. As the rainwater swelled the underground lakes, Fuller even operated wooden boat trips for visitors. Fuller ran nicknamed the cave “the eighth wonder of the world”. ads who boasted, “all the discoveries of the ancient world pale to insignificance in comparison with this greatest sight on earth or underground.” “Yeah, it was a big deal,” Shaw says – but it’s not meant to last.

After 1896, Shelta changed hands several times and reportedly even became a speakeasy during the ban. In 1967, the National Speleological Society (NSS), an organization that studies and protects caves, purchased the cave to preserve its unique ecosystem.

A 30-foot ladder descends into the gaping mouth of Shelta Cave.WITH POISONS FOR AMATA HINKLE

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