Amazing reflections of the other-worldly landscape of Mono Lake

June 15, 2014, 1 p.m.
mono lake

Photo: Bill Bouton/MNN Flickr Group

Salty and strangely beautiful

Mono Lake has been around for at least 760,000 years and in that time has become a unique and highly important habitat. Located in California's Eastern Sierra, the lake's strange appearance is due to the chemical make-up of the water. There is no outlet for water, so the lake accumulates high concentrations of salt. Though this means that there are no fish native to this ancient lake, there is an abundance of Mono Lake brine shrimp and alkali flies. The huge numbers of these two species has made the lake a critically important ecosystem for migrating and nesting birds who feast on them. They sustain around 2 million waterbirds each year, including the second largest nesting population of California gulls and the endangered snowy plover.

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.