URMIA, West Azarbaijan Prov., Jan. 24 (Mehr News Agency) - The population of the famous saltwater crustacean living in Lake Urmia, northwestern Iran, is rapidly in decline, the director of the Artemia Research Center at the University of Urmia told IRNA on Wednesday.
The artemia urmiana, which is a precious food resource for many aquatic animals, may not survive the harsh conditions it's now facing in the lake, Nasser Aq warned. During the past few years, he added, the lake's salinity rate has been on the rise, noting that even the relatively high rainfall this year has not stopped the increasing rate.
"The latest studies showed that the salinity of the water in Lake Urmia has reached 290 milligrams per liter, while artemia can only survive in water that has less than 150 milligrams of salt in a liter."
Artemia is an aquatic crustacean belonging to the subclass of ostracoda, characterized by a bivalve, generally calcified carapace with a hinge along the dorsal margin. It is a fine benthic marine fauna living in saline water, called Artemia Cysts (brine shrimp eggs). Because many ostracoda species have ecological limitations controlled by temperature, salinity, oxygen, food and other factors, they can provide an important tool for pale-oceanographic reconstruction.
In Iran, artemia has been found in 18 different geographic locations in salt lakes and lagoons. However, Urmia Lake is known as the largest habitat for the crustacean. Artemia's nutritious values it is used as a significant food source for shrimps, sturgeon, and shellfish.
The Lake Urmia, as the largest habitat for artemia and the largest water body in Iranian plateau, is located between the provinces of East Azarbaijan and West Azarbaijan. The lake covers an area of about 4000-6000 square kilometers.
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