Brine Shrimp and the Great Salt Lake
Food for Thought
Brine shrimp are important to the ecology of the Great Salt Lake. The Great Salt Lake is hypersaline, which means that it is many times saltier than the ocean. While fish and frogs cannot tolerate the high salt concentration, brine shrimp, Arternia franciscana, thrive as the dominant organism.
Brine shrimp have few aquatic predators in the Great Salt Lake. They mostly serve as food for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, providing them with fat reserves as stored energy for migration in spring and fall months. Wilson's Phalarope, Eared Grebe, Black Necked Stilt, American Avocet, and the California Gull are some of the birds that eat brine shrimp during their months of habitation at the Great Salt Lake.
When birds which feed on brine shrimp eventually visit the ocean, dormant brine shrimp cysts from the birds' feces or feathers fall into the ocean and hatch into nauplii. Although brine shrimp thrive in seawater, they do not exist in the ocean because brine shrimp nauplii have no means of protecting themselves, and thus are immediately eaten by hungry ocean predators.
Brine shrimp cysts have
Caption: A Couple of Options Male and female brine shrimp mate during the summer and fall. The life of shrimp involves two methods of reproduction: ovoviviparous (producing live young) and oviparous (producing dehydrated, dormant cysts).
Ovoviviparous reproduction takes place from March through September. During these months, food, oxygen, and water temperature are optimal for growth and reproduction of brine shrimp. Brine shrimp primarily rely on algae for food and oxygen. To become abundant, the algae rely on the brine shrimp for carbon dioxide and nutrients from the brine shrimps' feces.
Oviparous reproduction takes place from September through mid-January. During these months, food and oxygen are limited due to shorter clay length and cooler water temperatures. Under these harsh conditions, adult brine shrimp producedormant cysts. Water temperatures drop to about -4° Celsius (25 Fahrenheit) by the end of December, and most of the adult brine shrimp die. However, cysts survive the extreme cold winter temperatures in the water or on the shoreline.
When spring approaches, rain and snowmelt hydrate the dormant cysts, and they begin
hatching. Due to longer day length and warmer temperatures, food in the form of
microalgae and bacteria becomes abundant. The newly-hatched brine shrimp nauplii
grow to adults in three to six weeks and begin reproducing.
Erected by Sanders Brine Shrimp Company.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Animals • Environment • Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1950.
Location. 41° 3.395′ N, 112° 14.49′ W. Marker is in Syracuse, Utah, in Davis County. Marker can be reached from Visitors Center Road near Antelope Island Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Syracuse UT 84075, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Road To Nowhere (approx. ¼ mile away); Hollywood Comes to Antelope Island (approx. 3.7 miles away); Our Desert Island Home (approx. 6.9 miles away); Welcome to the Frary Homestead (approx. 6.9 miles away); Island Adventures
Credits. This page was last revised on May 9, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 29, 2021, by Connor Olson of Lemmon, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 61 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 29, 2021, by Connor Olson of Lemmon, South Dakota. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
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