WILDLIFE

The Great Salt Lake’s brine shrimp population looking plentiful

Mar 22, 2024, 2:30 PM

Aerial view of harvester and speeder boats deploying containment booms in preparation for harvestin...

Aerial view of harvester and speeder boats deploying containment booms in preparation for harvesting brine shrimp (artemia) on Great Salt Lake. (Courtesy Great Salt Lake Artemia)

(Courtesy Great Salt Lake Artemia)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Great Salt Lake’s brine shrimp population is in good shape for the beginning of spring. 

Right now you can see big orange streaks on the water where brine shrimp eggs are beginning to hatch. According to Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Wildlife Biologist Kyle Stone, there’s a good amount of them this year.

“We’re just really in a good position right now with the current salinity levels and the current lake levels,” Stone said. “Granted, we’ve still got a long way to go, and we can always use a little bit more water, and the lake is still in peril — we’re not out of the woods. But we are much better than we were two years ago.”

Even more than the population, the number of eggs the brine shrimp produced was up more than 50% from last year. That is thanks to the rising lake levels and a change to the railroad causeway berm — it has made things less salty. 

“With that reduced salinity, the brine shrimp themselves are not as stressed,” said Stone. “They’re not just putting so much effort into pumping salt out of their bodies. They’re able to put things into reproduction.”

Brine shrimp are a critical food source for millions of migratory birds, and for the shrimp and some other seafood we eat.

If you buy shrimp anywhere in the world there’s about a 50/50 chance it ate brine shrimp from the Great Salt Lake.

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The Great Salt Lake’s brine shrimp population looking plentiful