Salton Sea Shore

March 1, 2015 at 3:07 am (California, fine art photography, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Sunrise in the palms, Mecca, Calif.

Sunrise in the palms, Mecca, Calif.

It’s not really a sea.  It’s a lake with a strange history.  You see, the Salton Sea was once a legitimate lake (a small portion of prehistoric Lake Cahuilla), but then it dried up thousands of years ago.  When a canal was built in the early 1900s to divert water from the nearby Colorado River to the Imperial Valley for crops, the engineers failed to take into account the fact that the river sometimes floods.

North shore, Salton Sea

North shore, Salton Sea

And when it did in 1905, it broke free of its canal and dumped itself into the prehistoric lakebed for two years before the canal could be repaired.  Since then, the water level and salinity has been fluctuating depending on rainfall and evaporation.

Mecca, California - early morning

Mecca, California – early morning

When newborn, this “sea” (around 230 feet below actual sea level) inspired a real estate boom.  But when evaporation increased the salt level, or when disease wiped out fish and birds, or when fertilizer from agricultural runoff caused oxygen-depleting algae blooms, the stink and nastiness that occurred with increasing regularity caused these little resorts to fold up.

Dead fish, Salton Sea

Dead fish, Salton Sea

Near North Shore Yacht Club

Near North Shore Yacht Club

Despite that, the Salton Sea – between Palm Springs and San Diego – attracts millions of birds each year, particularly in winter.  Much of the east shore is part of the Salton Sea State Recreation Area with campgrounds.  Burrowing owl burrows can be found along the ditches at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR.

Burrowing-Owl-near-mudpots,-Salton-Sea-CA-(3)-copy-2

Burrowing Owl, Sonny Bono NWR

Burrowing Owl, Sonny Bono NWR

The lake also resides on the infamous San Andreas Fault, which has rippled some of the roads in the area during earthquakes.

It also creates geothermal areas such as the Davis-Schrimpf Seep Field – also known as the mudpots.  Technically it is on private property (signs say no trespassing but people do since it’s right alongside the road and there’s no fence.)  These intriguing mudpots sputter and blurp, sometimes geysering at intervals to create these cones of mud.  I’m sure you could burn yourself if you broke through, so watch where you step.

Mudpots-at-Hudson-Ranch-Plant-I,-Niland-CA-(6)-copy

Mudpots

Mudpots

Here’s a 30 sec video of the mudpots:

The community of Bombay Beach is a combination of funky and distressed.  A tall dike now shields the Salton Sea from view, but past floods ruined the town.  Some areas remind me of the devastated homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Bombay Beach ruins

Bombay Beach ruins

Efforts are being made to save the Salton Sea through various means.  Nearby agriculture is important, but can the fertilizer and pesticide runoff be mitigated?  Can water be diverted from Mexico?  Can desalination plants replenish the lake with fresh water?

Imperial-Valley-CA-irrigation-and-palms-copy

Cruising the date palm orchards, the artichoke fields, the sugar beets, alfalfa beds is a lesson in where our food comes from.  Without water, those fertile fields would be desert.

Brittlebush

Brittlebush

Nearby is the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park; the chuparosa and brittlebush were in lovely bloom two weeks ago.  The Borrego Palms trail is a winner, and you can see desert bighorn sheep which sometimes come down to the trail.

Newborn lambs

Newborn lambs

_D608841-copy-2

Chuparosa, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Chuparosa, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

In Big Bend National Park they would come off the mountains to eat the yucca flowers.  They’d stand on their hind legs to reach this delectable treat.

Although I’ve traveled to the Salton Sea several times, I still have not seen it all.

Boxcar graffiti

Boxcar graffiti

On my list for next time:

The Salton Sea History Museum

The International Banana Museum

The Sony Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge  (I was there briefly but want to see more)

Other cool places near the Salton Sea featured in this blog

For another take on visiting the “post-apocalyptic beach” read this fellow’s blog

I haven’t yet experienced the masses of dead fish, but I’m sure if I visit often enough I will.

Palm-grove,-Salton-Sea-CA-copy

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

Join my Facebook Page

Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: