-215ft (-71m)

Max Depth

43ft (13m)

Surface Area

343 sq mi (889 sq km)

Average Salinity

80 ppt, vs. 35ppt average salinity of ocean water


An Anchient Sea Reborn

It was once a sea

Once part of the Gulf of California, the Colorado river sedimentation cut it off from the ocean.

It alternated between dry and filled periods, attracting native americans to the region as evidenced by numerous archeological sites.

According to the oral memories of the Cahuilla people, the sea last existed until the 1700s.

Bathtub rings on the hillsides above the Salton bear witness to previous high water marks.

Reborn in 1905

As a consequence of heavy rains, the levees in the newly constructed irrigation systems failed, sending the floodwaters into the dry sea bed - creating the Salton Sea as we now know it

A tourist mecca

For decades the sea served as the region's getaway, with more yearly visitors at it's peak than Yosemite!

It once boasted the richest and densest fish stock in the country.


Now a Sanctuary in Decay

An economic collapse

Without tourism and water, the region began an inexorable decline into oblivion.
As the shorelines retreated, exposed lakebed began blowing in the wind.
Imperial valley now has the highest asthma rates in the nation

An ecological collapse

A keystone sanctuary on a critical route became unlivable as salinity levels exploded.

The fish die offs were followed by bird die offs, and today few stop here on their way up the coast.


A Sea Worth Saving