Don Leonard


The Great Salt Lake Brine Shrimp Harvest: How Mother Nature Imposes Her Will and Always Wins in the End

Every October the Great Salt Lake (Lake) brine shrimp industry musters its resources and makes its annual pilgrimage to the Lake. The objective is always the same – to harvest the “excess” cysts deposited by the Lake’s keystone species, Artemia franciscana.

Each year the industry arrives at the Lake with another year’s experience, an ever-increasing supply of sampling data, and the results of new research projects and studies related to the lake and its brine shrimp resource. Despite the accumulating experience, data and research, the harvest never seems to unfold exactly as expected or planned.

This presentation will provide insights into recent harvests, including quantities, qualities and yields. It will also compare anticipated results with actual outcomes and explain how numerous variations, including in temperature, algal composition and distribution, salinity range, timing and extent of precipitation, and other conditions, impact brine shrimp population dynamics and cyst production. Each year, in some seemingly unpredictable way, Mother Nature intervenes and uses the unique characteristics of the Lake and it’s ecosystem to impose her will on this complex resource. There are also some impressive characteristics of Artemia franciscana that allow this amazing species to not only survive, but to thrive in this ever-changing lake and in this complex ecosystem.

Don Leonard has served as President of the Utah Artemia Association, the brine shrimp industry trade association, for twenty years. During that time, he has been an advocate for the Great Salt Lake ecosystem through numerous boards, committees and activities. He works as Chairman and CEO of Great Salt Lake Brine Shrimp Cooperative, Inc., a fully integrated cooperative that harvests, processes and markets Artemia cysts on behalf of its member companies. Don currently serves on the State’s Great Salt Lake Advisory Council, the Division of Water Quality’s Nutrient Core Team, the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands’ Great Salt Lake Technical Team, and on the Board of Friends of Antelope Island.
Brine Shrimp by John P. George

Brine Shrimp by John P. George