I revisited Salton Sea with our guests and found out several new things we did not know before. This is partly due to meeting people living in the area. I really recommend visiting the Visitors’ Center as there you can get real information and history about this unusual lake. As an example, we found out the white beaches of Salton Sea are not formed from dead fishes bones, but small seashells. This phonomenon is due to the lake being used as a big Navy base during Wordl War II and they flew large numbers of seaplanes into the lake. The bottoms of these planes was full of small seashells which did not have any enemies in the lake and their population exploaded. Hence the white beaches are full of the shells of these small animals. Another thing we heard was that a visit to mud volcanoes (on private land by the way) at the Eastern end of the lake is not worth it as this has been a very dry winter and all the mud has hardened and there is nothing to see.
My second visit to Salvation Mountain ended up meeting a volunteer couple who lived in a mobile home maintaining the mountain. They told the original builder of this unusual place, Mr. Leonard Knight”, had a couple of strokes in 2011 and had to abandon the place and go to a nursing home close to San Diego where he also has some family members. These volunteers also told Leonard had lived year-round a total of 28 years in a small “mobile house” built on an old truck shown in the picture. Quite a job as he at the same time constructed new parts to Salvation Mountain and maintained it when current full-time volunteers need four people just for maintenenace. One should also rember that the site is in a remoter location in the desert where it doesn’t rain almost at all and summertime temperature easily reach +120 Farenheit in the shade (and there is no real shade). Hope all visitors to Salton Sea take the couple of miles from the shore, visit and donate something to maintain Salvation Mountain near the small town of Niland.
At the Eastern end of Salton Sea is a fairly new Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge, established there since the lake is a really crucial stopover of migrating birds and e.g. 80 to 90 percent of all endangered birds of USA rest there. The refuge area has a lot of other animals as well, including mountain lions, bobcats, raccoons, rabbits and many smaller mammals. The formerr pop singer and Palm Springs’ longtime Mayor Sonny Bono and currently his daugther have been driving initiatives in Congress to survive Salton Sea. This refuge was established at the end of 1990’s and on January 25 & 26 2014 was the second annual Pelican Days as the lake has the largest population of white pelicans. A great number of bird watchers join these days.
Burt finally it must be said that Salton Sea is as such a monument to us humans trying to overcome nature. This lake was born “accidentally” due to some unwise and greedy people. It has since suffered from salination and also hurricanes especially during 1970’s when most residents left the lake in a great hurry. Many houses and man-made constructions have been buried to the lake and Salton Sea is only slowly reviving. Bombay Beach and most profoundly Salton Sea Beach are the main places showing what happens if we do not play along mohter nature. The picture on the left taken in a grey and calm day from Salton Sea Beach says it all to me: deserted and destroyed beaches where people havel left in a great hurry and since then totally abondoned to just rotten – but where birds and tilapia fish still live in multiple millions.
Below the whole Salton Sea photo gallery – have a look and think about how we should live along the nature.