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Utah's New State Crustacean Is 600K Years Old

Gov. Spencer Cox bestowed the honor on tiny brine shrimp earlier this month
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2023 7:53 AM CDT
This Ancient Creature Is Now Utah's State Crustacean
Stock photo of Utah's new state crustaceans.   (Getty Images/S.Rohrlach)

Utah's "state crustacean designation" has been officially signed into law. What Gov. Spencer Cox's March 17 signature on HB 137 put into effect: The brine shrimp, a teensy aquatic creature that has called the Great Salt Lake home for 600,000 years, is now the Beehive State's official crustacean, reports CNN. Per a release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the shrimp are no longer than 1/2 inch and dwell in "salty waters around the world." They're also a big (read: multimillion-dollar) part of Utah's economy, as their eggs are harvested as food for fish and other types of shrimp.

The commercial brine shrimp fishery at the Great Salt Lake is the supplier for more than two-fifths of the world's brine shrimp demand. Millions of migratory birds also appreciate the marine creatures, with eared grebes in particular chowing down on 20,000 to 30,000 brine shrimp per day. "The importance of the brine shrimp in the Great Salt Lake ecosystem can't be overstated," says DWR Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program Manager John Luft. "State crustacean" isn't the only quirky designation Utah boasts: It considers the Dutch oven its official state cooking pot, and it also claims a state dinosaur known as the Utahraptor, per CNN. (More Utah stories.)

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