JOHN CHAN JAR & INTRODUCTION
John G. Chan, PhD is a retired professor of the Department of Biology of the University of Hawaii at Hilo. He was a contemporary with the original opae-ula pioneers that included John Maciolek, Richard Brock, and others and led the aquatic survey of the Manuka coastline area and other East Hawaii areas. He is shown with his opae-ula jar that is dated July 8, 1986. I asked Dr. Chan if he would write about the opae-ula jar and he wrote the following:
"My family and I stayed at Sheraton Waikaloa. While wandering around the grounds, I came across a half submerged empty peanut jar in one of the anchialine ponds on their property. Sediment had filled about an eighth of the jar and there were opae-ula inside. I picked it up, took it back to my hotel room for observation, then took it home to Hilo. That was back on July 8, 1986! The jar is now kept, as it always been, on a shelf in the garage where it receives afternoon sunlight for about 3-4 hours each day. The daytime temperature in the garage ranges from about 65° F in the winter to a high of 90° F during the summer.
The original population of shrimps in the jar was estimated at twenty-two. They shrimp have never been fed anything outside of an occasional scaping of algal scum growing on the jar wall. A small plastic planter dish is placed on top of the jar opening. The loose fit reduces evaporation but still allows gas exchange. To make up for the evaporated water loss, rainwater is added a few times per year.
At present, there are six shrimp surviving from the original population. The current population of six shrimp has been stable for several years. It appears that this population size reflects the carrying capacity of the jar environment under the present condition. Although I have seen females bearing eggs several times recently, there has been no increase in the population.
My goal in bringing the jar home was to observe the longevity of the shrimp in a semi-enclosed environment. I never attempted to feed or breed the shrimps. Indeed, until very recently, I never kept any opae-ula home except for this small jar.
Academically, I have studied the various aspects of the opae-ula while at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. With the use of scanning electron microscopy, I have studied the feeding apparatus of these shrimp. One important finding was that the opae-ula's (cheliped) pinchers, instead of having teeth for crushing, have evolved numerous bristles to form a brush for sweeping and filtering small particles like bacteria and diatoms."
- John G. Chan, PhD
- December 20, 2004
Dr. Chan is very active in his "retirement" and has shared the stories of the early days of opae-ula research. He and his wife Mary have enjoyed our Micro-Lobster concepts and he's renewing his interest and setting up opae-ula jars and experiments at his home.
Recently, he loaned me a copy of his paper: "The Biology of a Geothermally Heated Brackish Water Pool at Pohiki, Hawaii" in which he was the lead author with Rodney Fujii, both then of the Department of Biology of the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The paper was included in the Proceedings of the Third Conference in Natural Sciences at Hawaii Volcanoes National held on June 4-6, 1980.
I had heard of that pond from others and especially recalled that it was known to have a lot of the larger predator Metabataeus lohena as mentioned in his paper. I expressed an interest in visiting the pond with him and we went on January 5, 2005. For a report, *** Go to Revisiting Pohiki Pond with John Chan
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