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#276 Shelta Cave Crayfish

Critically Endangered

Around the World in 80 Days - Day 67

On our train ride across the country with Phileas Fogg we have made it to Fort Kearney, Nebraska. This crayfish is not from Nebraska. I haven't painted any crayfish yet and these are interesting so I wanted to paint them. They are endemic to Shelta Cave, in Huntsville, Alabama. There are 3 kinds of crayfish that live in the cave, and these are by far the smallest of the 3 species as well as being the rarest. Their eyes are white, and sort of recessed, so you can't really see them. They may be extinct, the last confirmed recording of them seems to have been in 1988. There used to be bats that lived in the cave. The bats have abandoned the cave, and so the nutrition their guano provided to the cave environment has also gone. That is thought to be the biggest problem. There had been extensive vandalism, but in 1967 a fence was put up to keep the vandals out. The fence is not one that will keep the bats out, and there have been attempts to encourage bats to return. So far those attempts have not been successful though. Along with the vanishing bats and vandals, droughts were a problem. It is also very likely that these ones struggle because of competition with the other larger species.

This painting did not photograph well. There are really several that I have which look much better in real life than they do in a picture. It is one of the reasons I hope so much to do a show. Even the paintings where I am able to get the colour right, and the detail shows, still look different in person. I don't believe I've ever been to Alabama. We went to 23 different states when I was not quite 10. We drove around the country in a VW Bus, pulling a little tent trailer, and visited family all over the place. I one day would like to say I have been to every state. I have a wonderful friend in Alabama. I've never met her. She reached out to me on Facebook. I almost never accept friend requests there. I am quite happy that almost all of my friends on social media are people I have met in real life or I went to online school with, or are family (yes, I have family I have never met, my dad is from a large family). I am not the sort who feels the need to have hundreds or thousands of followers. I am a firm believer in the idea that a few good friends is better by far than many many acquaintances. I admit that I would be happier to have more followers on twitter, and some people interacting with me on here, but that is because I want the animals to gain a following. I feel especially sad for the ones where I cannot find any information or pictures, because they seem practically abandoned by people.

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