Body 0.1: Artemia (Triassic-Present) / by Nathan Webster


[hw]Artemia, or the humble Brine Shrimp, or for those of us of a certain age, Sea Monkeys. [/hw] The great Salt Lake, while widely believed to be a lifeless body of water, is indeed hostile to most aquatic life, but ideal for the alien-like Brine Shrimp, which thrives in highly salty or otherwise toxic environments. The little beasts, which differ little from fossil records of their kin tens of millions of years old, are harvested commercially by highly competitive fishermen, who race to "swarms" spotted from planes. Fishermen have been known to fight over a prime swarm. The harvested shrimp and their eggs are sold as tropical fish food and for commercial fish farming, and can fetch $35 a pound. The dried creatures can live in suspended animation for years, thus making check-out aisle purchase in little paper envelopes a possibility. However their lack of crowns and other royal trappings disappointed many a young customer. Lest ye think these shrimps of the animal world harmless, Mike Cassidy's horrifying science fiction (not so) classic, Attack of the Brine Shrimp (1980), clearly shows the wage of such ignorance. Watch it if you dare. -Mark Hofeling