Monday, March 22, 2010

Brine Shrimp Industry for the Aral

Netting Brine Shrimp
The Deputy Director on Science of the Zoology Institute of the Uzbek Academy of Sciences Iskandar Mirabdullaev believes that harvesting brine shrimps in the Aral could be a valuable local natural product in future, creating employment in the Aral region and be a source of profits for local people. (Source: Uzbekistan Today)

In the last decade the Aral Sea brine shrimp has been the basic component of life in the Aral some 99% of its total biomass. The nutritional properties of newly hatched brine shrimp make them particularly suitable to be sold as a food source for fish and crustaceans raised in home aquariums, aquaculture systems, and in laboratories. They are high in lipids and unsaturated fatty acids (but very low in calcium).
Brine Shrimp Life Cycle

Usually they are sold in egg/cyst form. Brine shrimp eggs are metabolically inactive and can remain in total stasis for several years while in dry oxygen-free conditions, even at temperatures below freezing. Known as cryptobiosis, brine shrimp eggs can survive temperatures of liquid air (−190 °C) and a small percentage can survive above boiling temperature (105 °C) for up to two hours.

Once reintroduced to brine (salt) water, the cyst-like eggs hatch within a few hours. The nauplii, or larvae, are less than 0.5 mm in length when they first hatch. Brine shrimp have a biological life cycle of one year, during which they grow to a mature length of around one centimetre on average. This short life span, along with other characteristics such as their ability to remain dormant for long periods, makes them one of the most durable lifeforms on the planet.
Canned brine shrimp dried cysts / eggs

Drying Process
Russian companies in Siberia are currently selling artemia cysts (brine shrimp eggs) from salt lakes in southern Siberia for around 50 USD per kg (note each gm contains 270,000 eggs!) FOB depending on grade and size of deliveries.
The global demand for Artemia biomass is about 2000 tons per year, and is on the increase. It is a huge potential new industry for Karakalpakstan. Already an industry is being developed in Kazakhstan and there is no reason that this can't also be carried out on the Uzbek side of the Aral.

BOOK REVIEW - Artemia parthenogenetica (Branchiopoda: Anostraca) from the Large Aral Sea: Abundance, distribution, population structure and cyst production Original Research Article- Journal of Marine Systems, Volume 76, Issue 3, 10 March 2009, Pages 359-366 Elena G. Arashkevich, P.V. Sapozhnikov, K.A. Soloviov, T.V. Kudyshkin, P.O. Zavialov Shirshov Institute of Oceanology RAS, Moscow, Russia and the Central Asian Institute of hydrometeorology, Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Fig. The Aral Sea with overview of sampling sites (black dots — transect stations in October 2005; square —reference station off Aktumsuk (45°05′N, 58°23′E) visited every year in 2002–2006.

The brine shrimp Artemia parthenogenetica appeared in the Large Aral Sea in 1998 when mineralization reached 63 ppt. Data on Artemia abundance and biomass, along with temperature and salinity measurements were collected in the western basin during 2002–2006, primarily in the autumn. During the study period, population density grew progressively, both in terms of number, from 250 to 1260 individuals per m3, and in terms of biomass, from 0.3 to 1.3 g per m3. In 2005, the population density and spatial distribution in the western and eastern basins and strait was assessed.

The horizontal distribution of the Artemia population was uniform in the deep central part of the western basin, although the distribution was quite patchy in the shallow coastal zone. Depth habitat of Artemia was restricted to the upper 20–25 m of depth, as the oxygen depletion and formation of anoxic layer prevented distribution of Artemia to the deeper waters. In autumn, all females reproduced oviparously, with an average clutch size of 30–35 eggs per female. The number of eggs in a clutch was positively correlated with female body length (r2 = 0.36–0.44).