Friday, July 2, 2010

The Salton Sea

I just arrived back home after a month long trip along the west coast. I spent the last two weeks staying at a friends place in San Diego. We decided to take a weekend trip out to visit the desert and spend some time around the Salton sea. It was definitely one of the strangest places I have ever been. All the photos in this post are not mine, I'm going to do a short post later about hanging out in one of the seaside towns, Bombay Beach, with the photo's I took.

The Sea was created in 1905 when heavy rains and snow melt flooded the Colorado river. The flooding was attributed to poor engineering when the river was redirected. Over the next two years as water flowed through two newly created rivers it emptied into Salton Sink, creating a 15x30 mile sea resting at 226 feet below sea level.

After the creation of the Boulder dam the flooding of the river was controlled. Due to the below sea level elevation of the newly created body of water it was realized that it would be permanent. People begin to flock to the sea in the late 1920's, bringing boats and hanging out on the beaches of the newly formed desert oasis. Fish were introduced to the lake and their populations exploded. Many species of birds began to use the sea as a major nesting site. Motels and small resorts began to pop up to cater to the growing tourist population. People began haling the new lake as the next Palm Springs and began plans for the Salton Seas bright and prosperous future.

As years passed full time residents and environmentalists realized that because the sea had no outlet the salinity would continue to increase. This was partly due to the large scale farming being done around the sea, which caused large amounts of nitrates and other pollutants to flow into the sea. As the years passed and the toxicity of the lake increased many of the species of fish began to die out and bird populations began to decline. Due to the fertilizer run off large algae blooms began to appear making the lake to reek of sulfur. Less and less people came to visit the sea and by the late 1970's most of the towns dotting the shore were abandoned.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating! Never knew about this. Will we see photos of yours?