“The largest body of water in California was formed by a mistake.”

99% Invisble podcast:

In 1905, the California Development Company accidentally flooded a huge depression in the Sonora Desert, creating an enormous salty lake called the Salton Sea.

The water is about twice as salty as the Pacific Ocean. The ground beneath the southern end of the sea is volcanic and water bubbles to the surface in muddy pools. The only fish that can live in Salton Sea are tilapia, but even they struggle to survive.

This sea—this gurgling, sometimes stinky, accident of a sea—is actually in danger of drying up and disappearing. And you may be thinking: “good riddance!” It doesn’t sound all that nice. But the Salton Sea needs us. And we need it.

The Salton Sea demonstrates that the difference between natural and artificial isn’t as clear-cut as we often think.

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