The Salton Sea


The Salton Sea is located in California's Imperial Valley and lies about 226 feet BELOW sea level.  The "lake" is fed solely by runoff from agricultural drainage systems.  The lake covers about 376 square miles making it the largest in California.  Although the popular belief is that the lake is contaminated, scientists insist it is not.  It does, however, have extremely high saline levels - so high that its water is saltier than sea water.

Due to the high salinity of the Salton Sea, the only fish able to survive are Tilapia, originally imported from Africa to keep the agricultural waterways clean.  Although stressed by the salinity of the water they can survive.  A couple months ago, a cold snap lowered water temperatures to a level which killed off millions of these fish.  Washing ashore by the thousands, one park employee said you could practically "walk hundreds of feet out onto the lake on top of the fish".

The Salton Sea appears a depressing place at first but if you look hard enough you'll find it to be a fascinating place with a rich history.  The local government is trying to revitalize the area, once a popular watersporting destination, by bringing back boat races and fishing competitions.  My recent visit was a couple weeks after the most recent fish deaths began but some of the images I made should still tell the story.

 Reference: Wikipedia