SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — While the Great Salt Lake plays an important role to us as a state, it’s perhaps even more important to the brine shrimp population, which has inhabited the lake for over 600,000 years.

These brine shrimp (a.k.a. Artemia) are small but mighty — equipped with a unique resilience to the salt-dense water, which allows them to thrive in the Great Salt Lake. However, with lake water levels continuing to plummet and salt saturation getting even higher, these majestic creatures are in danger of extinction very soon.

As the brine shrimp industry contributes nearly $57 million annually to the state, with a key role in its surrounding ecosystem, the need for a solution is more necessary now than ever before.

Brine Shrimp Petition by Emerson Elementary School

Since beginning to raise brine shrimp in September, Mr. Josh Craner’s 6th-grade class at Emerson Elementary School in Salt Lake City has witnessed first-hand how astonishing they are and what a crucial role they play here in Utah.

According to Craner: “The kids have learned that brine shrimp are a keystone species in that ecosystem. Without the brine shrimp, that ecosystem would fall apart.”

In hopes of seeing a difference, the class has created a petition to make brine shrimp the official state crustacean. Rep. Rosemary T. Lesser, in an effort to help the class, introduced a new bill, H.B. 137 to the Utah State Legislature in the 2023 General Session.

The bill was first introduced to the House last year but ran out of time before it could pass.

The goal of this petition is to raise awareness for our local populations of brine shrimp and spur action by the state to ensure their survival in the Great Salt Lake — which could disappear in several years if not rectified soon enough.

“Kids presenting this helps people to see that it’s not just an adult problem — it’s going to impact the other generations as well,” Craner remarks proudly about his 6th-grade students.