California: Beauty at Mono Lake
September 30, 2012 2 Comments
Mono Lake is located on the dry eastern side of California’s Sierra Mountains. It is one of America’s oldest lakes – over 1,000,000 years old! The lake covers 60 square miles in volcanic Mono Basin, and is almost 3 times saltier than the ocean. Although no fish live in the lake, there are trillions of brine shrimp in its salty waters. Millions of migratory and nesting birds come to feast on the shrimp. Mono Lake is the most important migration stop for eared grebes in North America –at times over 2 million birds rest on the lake’s surface.
Eighty-five percent of the state’s California Gulls nest at Mono Lake (second largest breeding colony in the world after the Great Salt Lake). Gulls frequently run along the shore with their mouths open scooping up brine flies! One banded seagull returned to the lake every summer for 27 years (and on a related note, in December 2016 on Midway Atoll in the Pacific, an albatross named Wisdom laid an egg in her nest at the age of 66 years old! http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/wisdom-66-year-old-albatross-having-another-baby-180961400/).
Mono Lake is most famous for its striking tufa towers. The limestone spires were created when springs bubbled up through the alkaline water. More info about this special place is at: http://www.monolake.org/