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Masses of shrimp eggs leave visible slick on Utah lake

December 7, 2020 GMT
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This undated photo provided by the Utah Department of Natural Resources shows floating brine shrimp egg clusters, which start to resemble thick pools of chocolate milk the closer they get to shore. (Utah Department of Natural Resources via AP)
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This undated photo provided by the Utah Department of Natural Resources shows floating brine shrimp egg clusters, which start to resemble thick pools of chocolate milk the closer they get to shore. (Utah Department of Natural Resources via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Tiny shrimp eggs have been showing up in such huge numbers in Utah’s Great Salt Lake that some parts of the lake look covered with an oil slick.

Cold weather in fall or winter causes the lake’s small brine shrimp to produce the eggs, called cysts. When conditions are right such as this year, the eggs come together in giant masses.

Photos from the Great Salt Lake State Park and Marina show what looks like a swirling, brown slick on the water at the marina west of Salt Lake City.

When the weather warms up the eggs are expected to hatch and continue their life cycle. Commercial boats harvest the eggs to be raised into adult shrimp known as “sea monkeys” that are sold to fish farms.

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Brine shrimp also feed the millions of birds from some 300 species that breed or stopover at the Great Salt Lake during their annual migrations, according to the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program.