Salton Sea

Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is a seriously weird place. This enormous inland saline lake in the southern California desert sits below sea level directly on the San Andreas Fault. It was formed in modern times when an aqueduct failed in 1905, flooding the area. Since the water can not drain, the salinity builds up over time. Worse, agricultural runoff and waste from polluted rivers in Mexico flowing into it causes massive fish kills. In summer when temperatures can easily hit 110 F, there can be a major stench.

However, birds love the place. It is a major migration stop, birders come from everywhere to marvel at what they see, and utterly bizarrely (at least to me), seagulls and pelicans are there as well as a multitude of other species.

There is also serious scientific research there, studying growing crops in saline areas, Dates, citrus, and other crops are grown quite near the Sea.

The 2002 movie, Salton Sea, portrays the area as never what it seems, dangerous, with speed freaks and other such derangement afoot. Look, deserts can be strange. If you see a house way off the road in a desert with a fence around it and posted, um, they mean it.

A few years ago, Sue and I stopped at a coffee-house / restaurant in Joshua Tree, CA. It’s also a desert area. I mentioned to the barrista that there seemed to be a lot of artists living there now. Yes, he said, I think we now have more artists than white supremacists.

Like I said, deserts can be weird – and absolutely have their own wondrous beauty too, make no mistake about that. But if you choose to live in a baking desert next to a giant inland lake filled with rotting fish, well, I’m thinking you might be running from something or just aren’t overly interested in the society most of us live in. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The 'sand' on the shores of the Salton Sea is mostly made of fish bones

  • DJ

    And of course there’s a maximum security California State Penitentiary nearby where prisoners regularly sweat in 120 degree heat, with the Sea adding humidity you wouldn’t otherwise find in the desert. I’ve visited there– the place is Hell.

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