Sweet Briar naturalist-in-residence Mike Hayslett and nature documentarian Brian La Fountain will be the featured speakers at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center’s Evening Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 18. La Fountain will screen his new nature film on tiny crustaceans that live in seasonal ponds, “Secret Pond: A Fairy Shrimp Documentary.”
Admission is free but donations are accepted. Refreshments will be served half an hour before the showing, which will be held at the Schmidt Conference Center in Edgewater, Md.
For the making of the documentary, Hayslett, who directs the Virginia Vernal Pools Program, guided La Fountain to the often hidden ponds where fairy shrimp live. Vernal pools wax and wane with the seasons. Many dry up in the summer but in the spring they teem with a host of species that rely on them to reproduce each year.
Hayslett, a herpetologist by training, is an expert on and fierce protector of these delicate habitats. Their ephemeral nature makes them particularly vulnerable to human activity, such as development and farming, sometimes without the person knowing he or she is harming a wetland.
“Secret Pond” was created to raise awareness for their protection. Hayslett was a more than willing collaborator on the film he calls a “two-year labor of love” for La Fountain — who has been fascinated by fairy shrimp since he was a small boy.
“The film does an exquisite job of portraying the miraculous life cycle of fragile fairy shrimp — conservation ambassadors for the remarkable ecosystems we know and love [as] vernal pools,” Hayslett said.
“Shot at various locations around Virginia, including underwater, Brian’s documentary is an emotionally charged portrayal — with incredible high-definition images — of the microcosmic world of fairy shrimp.”
See a trailer for the film here.
For more information about the film, call (443) 482-2300.