NJ Tardigrades


Welcome to the research section on the unusual creatures called tardigrades.

Below are photos from tardigrade population survey I conducted in New Jersey.

Download the actual Scientific paper here:   Tardigrades of North America NJ Survey

Scientific paper published in the October 2013 issue of NYMS Newsletter (click to download it):

New York Microscopical Society Newsletter Vol 7 (27) No. 8

Tardigrades can withstand extreme temperatures.

They can hibernate in a state of suspended animation for a hundred years.

These creatures can withstand high doses of radiation.

Tardigrades have been sent into outer space,

lived in that vacuum, and come back to Earth alive.

See a video about their most recent trip by clicking here.

Tardigrades In Space

Tardigrades are just about everywhere.

Would you like to know how to find them?

Read the article on the next page  in the menu at top.


and here: http://www.microbehunter.com/2011/10/20/microbehunter-magazine-october-2011/

The oldest tardigrade was found where?

New Jersey!  Tardigrade Found in Amber pdf file


Below is my photo gallery of the New Jersey Survey.   Download the actual Scientific paper here:   Tardigrades of North America NJ Survey



TardigradeAnimated by Clark W. Beasley
Tardigrade Map composite
Counties of New Jersey

00056 Buena, NJ
ATLANTIC COUNTY, #00056 Buena, NJ, Sample taken June 25, 2009. Substrate was lichen on brick wall. 39 DEG 30.821 N, 074 DEG 55.541 W. Elevation 101 Ft.
00032 Oakland, NJ
BERGEN COUNTY, #00032, Oakland, NJ. Sample taken June 4, 2004. Substrate was lichen on tree bark. Possible “Hawthorn” tree. Leaf sample taken and pressed. 41 DEG 00.150 N, 074 DEG 14.638 W. Elevation 418 Ft.
00042 Unionville, NJ

BURLINGTON COUNTY, #00042, Unionville, NJ. Collected on Jan 11, 2006 from Maple tree lichen on bark. Maple tree assessment based upon dead leaves on ground and tree structure. This photo of Milnesium. Found in suspension made on Jan 13, 2006. Site location- 40 DEG 01.118 N, 074 DEG 43.930 W, Elevation 84 Ft based upon GPS.

00042 Unionville, NJ

00045 So. Seaville, NJ

00052, Bridgeton, NJ

Cumberland County, #00052. From scraping of lichen from stone in Bridgeton, NJ. Collected on 25SEP07, and suspension made on 14OCT07. Definitely Milnesium. Permanent slide made 25OCT07, using double coverglass mount in Hoyers and Cytoseal 60. This is a stacked combination of 4 photos using Helicon Focus program, and Sony Digital camera. Location 39 DEG 25.736 N, 075 DEG 14.824 W. Elevation 86 Ft, using GPS.


00035, WestOrange, NJ

00047, Downer, NJ

00047, Downer, NJ

Above is a video of Milnesium tardigrade specimen #00029

00050, Liberty Park, NJ
Hudson County, #00050, from Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ collected on 06SEP07. Photo taken on 03NOV07 from suspension made on 27OCT07. Two tardigrades (in water) appear to be Macrobiotus and Minibiotus. Tardigrades placed into PVA preservative under double coverglass, for permanent mounting on slide after this photo was taken. Both PVA and Hoyers tend to clarify specimens almost immediately, thus I took these photos while tardigrades in water (See Bridgeton #00052 Cumberland Co. above for example of the clarifying effect of Hoyers mountant). Site sample was bark scraping (not much noticable lichen at all) from London Plane Tree, a type of Sycamore, Planatus x acerifolia. Location 40 DEG 41.655 N, 074 DEG 03.514 W, 0 (zero) ft. per GPS.
00037, Flemington, NJ

Hunterdon county, # 00037, from Flemington, NJ. Photo shows how a Macrobiotus tardigrade appears in nature. Incident (or reflected) light used. Specimen, in a well slide, was lighted from below using oblique lighting to illuminate the background and the sides of the bark substrate. A fiber optic light cable was pointed above the specimen, while the origin end of the cable was placed in contact at the flash of the camera. Since tardigrades move rather quickly, the flash was able to stop the motion to a certain extent, as well as light the subject as it would appear in daylight. Because of the challenge of short working distance between the objective and coverglass surface, I used a Lomo 10x plan objective. By selecting a 1.6x magnification changer in the trinocular head, I was able to gain some additional magnification without sacrificing working distance. Using a 10x WF eyepiece, the net result is a magnification of 160 x. Observations and photos taken 22APR05. Sample collected on 20APR05 from lichen covered bark of Pyrus communis (Common Pear ) tree. Location 40 DEG 30.125 N, 074 DEG 51.295 W, 185 Ft. (GPS)

00041, Robbinsville, NJ

Mercer County, #00041, from Robbinsville, NJ. Eyepiece 10xWF and objective25x Zeiss achro. Permanent slide made 17JAN08, using double coverglass mount in PVA and Cytoseal 60. This is a stacked combination of 4 photos using Helicon Focus program, and Sony Digital camera. Camera camera was zoomed in to enlarge the specimen in the field. Sample taken 01SEP05 from ground moss. Location 40 DEG 13.703 N, 074 DEG 37.183 W, Elevation 67 Ft. (GPS).

00058, Woodbridge, NJ


00027, Farmingdale, NJ
Monmouth County, # 00027, from Farmingdale, NJ. Photo shows good view of Ramazzotius tardigrade. Note the distinctive claw arangement of 2 short , 1 long, and a short on each leg. Mouthparts very clear showing lips, which look like short flexible duck-bill when viewed from various angles. Brown markings on back also distinctive of Ramazzottius. Observation and photo taken on 03JUL05 with Lomo trinicular and CanonA40, using 10x WF objective, 25x Zeiss achromat, and 1.1x magnification changer setting. Sample of lichen covered bark from Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweetgum tree) was collected on 24MAY04, and thus sat for an entire year before suspension was prepared. Location 40 DEG 11.328 N, 074 DEG 09.838 W, 73 Ft. (GPS)

And here is specimen 00027 in a video:


00008, Morris Plains, NJ
Morris County, # 00008. Morris Plains, NJ. Observations showed the double claws and similar mouthparts to possible Macrobiotis harmsworthii. Top- Eyepiece 10xWF and objective LOMO 20x Phase Contrast- shows body shape and claws. Canon A40 digital camera was zoomed in to enlarge the specimen in the field. Neutral Density#2 filter used. This specimen measured 370 microns. Sample taken18APR01, from Metasequioa glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood) tree bark. This bark sample was kept in a zip-lock plastic bag for two years, and it took 3 weeks of soaking to re-hydrate the tardigrades. Observation and photos made 06MAY03. Site location 40 DEG 50.455 N, 074 DEG 28.541 W, Elevation 413 Ft (GPS).                                  
00018, Auburn, NJ
Salem county, #00018. Photo of Auburn, NJ tardigrade. Eyepiece 10xWF and objective20x achro. Canon A40 digital camera was zoomed in to enlarge the specimen in the field. Photo seems to indicate this is a Macrobiotis. Video taken as well. Observations and photos taken13MAR04, with tardigrade in water under cover glass. Sample taken 27OCT03, from lichen on bark of Quericus palustris (Pin Oak) tree. Location 39 DEG 41.910 N, 075 DEG 23.746 W (GPS).

00054, Salem, NJ

Salem county, # 00054. Photo of Salem, NJ tardigrade. Collected on 25SEP07, and suspension made on 14OCT07. Definitely Milnesium. Permanent slide made 25OCT07, using double coverglass mount in PVA and Cytoseal 60. This is a stacked combination of 4 photos using Helicon Focus program, and Sony Digital camera. Oblique lighting with 10x WF eyepiece and 25x Zeiss achomat objective. Location 39 DEG 34.209 N, 075 DEG 27.864 W. Elevation 22 Ft, using GPS.

00007, Somerset, NJ

00003, Newton, NJ

Sussex County, # 00023. Photo of Newton, NJ tardigrade egg. Eyepiece 10xWF and objective20x achro. Egg looks like might be Macrobiotus aerolatus (Kinchin). Egg spikes measure from tip to tip 14.6 micron. Egg diameter measures from wall to wall 10.9 microns. Observations and photos taken 25JAN04, with tardigrade egg in water under cover glass. Sample taken 14NOV03 from moss on rock surface. Location 41 DEG 02.866 N, 074 DEG 44.200 W, Elevation 623 Ft. (GPS).

00023, Newton, NJ

00055, Linden, NJ

00009, Hackettstown, NJ

About Mike Shaw

Mike Shaw can be described as a naturalist in the classical sense. His contribution to Science is a by-product of his love for exploring the natural world. Having participated in a chimpanzee rehabilitation project in West Africa, he later travelled to the Amazon to study paper and pulp production as it relates to deforestation. Travelling to the observatory at Arecibo, he has done contributing research on their S.E.T.I. project. He is the author of books on microscope filters, tardigrades, and educational game books. He also conducted research on the tardigrade population in the state of New Jersey. His scientific paper was published in October 2013.


  1. Bob Koenig on July 27, 2011 at 10:38 am said:

    I wondered if there was a DVD on learning more about these creatures. My son would enjoy that!!

  2. Jack Konrath on September 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm said:

    Hi Mike,

    Your new website is fantastic! I’m about to send a nice little dissecting scope to my grand-neices. I’m going to include the link to your site. I know they’ll enjoy the challenge – and rewards – of finding tardigrades in the mosses and lichens around their house in middle-Illinois. Then they can move right down your list of things to look at and explore. By Christmas, I’m betting they’ll be ready for a nice compound ‘scope. Then I’ll have to buy your book! :-)

    Thanks for a great place to come and learn.


  3. Crystal T on November 19, 2013 at 5:07 pm said:

    Hi Mike,

    I am in Roseburg, Oregon. I am a middle school science teacher. I first learned of tardigrades while watching “Cat in the Hat” this summer with my sons. Since then, my young sons and I have been Water Bear Hunting for 3 months with no success. I just found your youtube video 3 weeks ago and was delighted to see your new book and paper this week! After making some adjustments to our sampling and viewing techniques we are starting to find tardigrades in our very mossy back yard! Thank you for all the effort you put into your thorough work and reporting! It made all the difference to us. :-) I have been writing and receiving a couple small grants to do a local population survey in our area of Oregon as a middle school science project this spring. I am relieved to finally be able to find tardigrades – and therefore have a lot more confidence in my ability to guide this project!!!

    THANK YOU for your work.
    Crystal T.
    Roseburg, OR

    • Crystal –
      Thanks for your great post! I’m happy you were able to find some tardigrades! You just have to be persistent, that’s all. Please continue to keep us posted!

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