Brine shrimp are an abundant crustacean in the Great Salt Lake, providing an essential source of food for migrating birds, and brine shrimp eggs are sold worldwide as feed for aquaculture facilities, bringing in millions of dollars. to the Utah economy. Now, a group of Utahns are looking to make brine shrimp the state crustacean of Utah.
Jaimi Butler is the coordinator of the Great Salt Lake Institute and a brine shrimp enthusiast.
“About three years ago, one of my students, Bobby Bruggeman, dove deep into Wikipedia about brine shrimp…and Bobby came to see me one day, and he’s such a character. He’s like, ‘Jaimi! Did you know that only seven states have a state shellfish and Utah is not one of them? “Said Butler.
Since then, Butler has wanted to name the brine shrimp as Utah’s state crustacean, but it wasn’t until recently that he got enough momentum to push the idea forward. In partnership with Utah Rep. Rosemary Lesser and Josh Craner’s sixth grade class from Emerson Elementary in the Salt Lake City School District, they drafted a bill detailing why brine shrimp deserve the title of ‘State.
Harvesting brine shrimp has an important history in Utah, and Butler said naming brine shrimp as the state’s crustacean honors the industry’s successes.
“I don’t think brine shrimp need more protection, I think the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program and the Division of Natural Resources are doing a great job of managing and even optimizing brine shrimp. brine. For me, it’s that recognition of decades of work that people have done in partnership with industry, academia and conservation groups,” Butler said.
Although Butler argued that brine shrimp might not need more protections themselves, she hoped this bill would spark more interest in protecting the Great Salt Lake as a whole.
“I think there’s a misconception that there’s going to be a quick fix…and if we all do this thing then it will fix the lake. And it’s not like that…everyone has to do everything from me in my daily life, and sixth graders who want brine shrimp to be our state crustacean, to lawmakers who can vote for smart water laws,” Butler said.
Visit Change.org to learn how you can help brine shrimp become Utah’s crustacean, and stay tuned for part two of this story, where we share the journey of sixth graders Emerson Elementary’s year to create the brine shrimp bill.