Lake Urumia’s Artemia Face Extinction

Lake Urumia’s Artemia Face ExtinctionLake Urumia’s Artemia Face Extinction

In recent years, consecutive droughts, high evaporation, rising temperatures and reduction of water entering Lake Urumia has caused the lake’s salt concentration to increase to more than 400 grams per liter; therefore the conditions are not conducive for the only valuable living organism in the lake, the Artemia Urmiana (brine shrimp) to survive, Mehr News Agency reported.

“Since the past four years, the organism hasn’t been seen in the lake; so Artemia is almost extinct,” said Hadi Bahadori, development assistant to the governor of West Azarbaijan.

Artemia is a unicellular organism from Crustaceans family. It can live in inland saltwater lakes and feed on the lake’s algae; but now the lake Urumia, the largest lake in the Middle East and the sixth largest saltwater lake on earth, is facing  a crisis, that even the hardy Artemia is not able to survive it. In the recent years, the lake area has declined by 90%.

“We should first revive the lake and then can try to revive the Artemia population,” Bahadori added.

Artemia is the most prominent organism living in the lake, and also the largest source of food for sturgeon fish, which produces caviar, and also for the local birds, said Yusefali Asadpour, head of the country’s Artemia Research Center.

 Economic Value

It is a one of the seven known species of bisexual Artemia across the world and has significant economic value as it is a valuable food source for freshwater fish and shrimp on farms and can be fed to saltwater fish and shrimp on farms after additional enrichment. It contains more than 52% protein and 4% fat, and the combination can completely meet all nutritional needs of fresh water fish and shrimp.

Lake Urumia is named after the provincial capital city of Urumia, originally a Syriac name meaning city of water.

In July 2014, President Hassan Rouhani approved plans for a $500 million program in the first year of a recovery plan for the lake. The funds are to be used for water management, reducing water use by farmers, and environmental restoration. Earlier in March, Iran’s Department of Environment (DoE) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) launched a plan to save the lake and the nearby wetland, which called for spending of $225 million in the first year and $1.3 billion overall for restoration.