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July 10, 2015

United States

California—Farming Brine Shrimp in the Salton Sea?

   

 

The Salton Sea is a shallow, saline, desert lake located in Southern California’s Imperial Valley.

 

As the salinity level in the lake continues to increase from its current 55 parts per thousand (ppt) to upwards of 80 ppt in the next couple of years, it will soon reach optimum conditions for producing brine shrimp (Artemia franciscana) eggs (cysts), which are marketed to shrimp hatcheries around the world.  The eggs hatch into a baby brine shrimp that are an ideal feed for developing penaeid shrimp.

 

Currently, the brine shrimp market is dominated by Utah’s Great Salt Lake (with a salinity of 50 ppt to 270 ppt), producing revenues ranging from $12 million to $20 million a year.  The Salton Sea has several ecological advantages over the Great Salt Lake for brine shrimp production, but the primary one is mild winter weather.  Brine shrimp eggs are harvested in Utah from October to January.  This leaves the harvest exposed to the huge fluctuations of the Utah winters, which can range from mild temperatures to severe blizzards.  Winter weather in the Imperial Valley, on the other hand, is famously mild and produces much of the USA’s winter vegetables.  Utilizing the increase in salinity to develop brine shrimp farming could bring new revenue to the region.

 

Source: SaltonSeaSense.  A New Type of Farming.  Stacia Dudley.  July 8, 2015.

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