As Salton Sea faces ecological collapse, a plan to save it with ocean water is rejected.
Brent Jourdan, 19, and Jack Regan, 19, both from Victoria, are among those who have travelled to the Salton Sea to help save it, knowing that climate change may mean its waters will soon turn salty.
“We just want to get to work,” said Regan with a shrug as he walked into his first job on the sea. “I was just there to help.”
This year the Salton Sea was one of the world’s most visited places, and with more people than ever before flocking to it, interest among scientists and policymakers is growing.
The Salton Sea is a salty coastal sea between the US state of California and Mexico, which can sometimes be up to five metres deep in parts.
It covers an area of 30,000 square kilometres.
It’s only part of the Salton sea, but it contains the majority of the world’s fresh water, and makes up around a tenth of that saltwater.
This is because rainwater and the runoff resulting from melting snow can cause the sea to expand, while evaporation creates fresh water.
It was first discovered in the early 1920s, and has been used by humans to exploit its resources.
What’s more, it’s been used as a dumping ground for toxic waste and nuclear waste.
But over the years, as the sea has been polluted with chemical pollution from industry and the environment, it has steadily deteriorated, becoming saltier and becoming more saline.
The sea was given this name because of the salty crust in large swaths of the sea, but it is also the name of the town it’s in (Salton means “salty place”).
In its current state, many small animals and some species of plants are unable to survive in its waters, and it hasn’t been visited regularly since the early 80s.
As it becomes more saline, its waters are becoming warmer and, combined with changes that will result in a reduction in rainfall, will make the sea less saline, causing it to become saltier.