I had long seen the Salton Sea on the map and wondered what to make of this large sea 35 miles wide and 15 miles long about 50 miles from Palm Springs. Recently, on a long weekend away from LA, I decided to see what this was all about and set sail (with the air conditioning on full blast as temperatures soared to 115 degrees) to the Salton Sea Marina.
The Salton Sea is a man made sea filled with water that had been diverted from the Colorado River at the turn of the last century. For the next 60 years, the Salton Sea thrived as an oasis as beautiful as the Mediterranean in the middle of the desert. And then, the water began to get more and more salty.
Today, the Salton Sea almost has twice as high of a salt content than any ocean. Fish brought in for the pleasure of fishing accumulated. There are so many and the water gets so warm in the summer completely killing the oxygen in the water and thus millions of fish die a year. This was our first impression of Salton Sea, dead fish, and we hadn’t even reached the water yet. Thousands of decaying fish with their heads exploded littered the walk way to the beach.
This was our first taste of realizing possibly why we had not seen any other tourists. Walking closer to the beach, one is hit by a smell that can only be described as stinky. Sickly looking birds sat morosely on rocks surrounded by floating dead fish. The heat was oppressive and the water looked murky, a bit terrifying, and near boiling. In short, it seemed like the stuff of horror films. And yet, I am so very glad we decided to go off the beaten path and discover this man-made sea that is slowly becoming an ecological disaster. We can tell many tales and adventures on the way to Salton Sea, the ‘Los Angeles Riviera’.