The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake, residing 226 feet below sea level about 50 miles southeast of Palm Springs. In the 1950s and 60s, the area enjoyed some success as a resort, supporting thriving communities on its eastern and western shores. The Sea was created by a flood in 1905, in which water from the Colorado River flowed into the area. The lack of an outflow means that the Salton Sea is a system of accelerated change and the relatively high salinity of the inflow feeding the Sea has resulted in ever increasing salinity. The Sea is a beautiful blue from afar, though a different story up close. The white beaches are in fact white because they’re made up of the pulverized bones of millions of dead fish. Avian botulism is also a persistent problem in the Salton Sea, killing off thousands of birds each year. And, according to a BBC report, if the Sea were to dry out, it will unleash “clouds of toxic dust across Southern California.”
No longer a resort area, it is a good stop for photographers like myself that like decay. The eastern shore, off State Route 111, finds abandoned, salt-encrusted structures along Bombay Beach. The western shore (below), off State Route 86, finds the aforementioned “white” beaches and an ever present aroma of saline and decaying fish just off the mostly abandoned Salton City.
Photos taken October 2013 (Nikon D7100).
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