Each spring as Great Salt Lake warms, masses of brine shrimp cysts begin to hatch. Newly hatched brine shrimp larvae, called nauplii (NAW-plee-eye), dominate the water by late April.
As they grow and develop, brine shrimp go through a series of 14 to 17 different stages. Each stage is separated from the next by a molt. Molting involves growing a new larger exoskeleton and shedding the old one.
When the water is warm, food is plentiful, and oxygen levels are high, brine shrimp can develop to adulthood in as little as 8 days. The conditions in Great Salt Lake aren't quite ideal, so it normally takes 3 to 6 weeks for brine shrimp to reach maturity.
When conditions are good, mature females release developing embryos or free-swimming nauplii into the water. But when temperatures drop and food is scarce, the females release dormant cysts. Inside the cysts, the embryos are arrested in development. The surrounding shell protects them from the elements. When conditions improve, the embryo resumes development, and the life cycle continues.