Place
Great Salt Lake
lake in Utah, USA
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Great Salt Lake
lake in Utah, USA
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Great Salt Lake
Salt Lake City, Utah
United States

jtucker's picture

Contributor

The Great Salt Lake is an interesting reminder of our geological past.

See, the Great Salt Lake was once part of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville. Today, it is largest salt-water lake in the Western Hemisphere and is the fourth largest terminal lake in the world. Yahoo.

This lake may be a good place to learn how to swim as well, for drowning would be a very difficult feat to accomplish. Due to the fact that there are no outlets except for evaporation for the water to escape through, the Great Salt Lake is (not surprisingly) very salty and therefore will allow you to float on top of the water. That said, swimming is generally not advised.

These high salinity levels make the lake uninhabitable to all but a handful of species including shrimp, flies, and algae, which in turn make the lake a major destination for migratory birds. In addition to being a shrimp and algae paradise, there are also reports of monsters living in these waters. Supposedly a large monster with the body of a crocodile and the head of a horse attacked two salt workers in the mid 1870s. Turns out it was probably just a buffalo but the whole monster story is a lot more entertaining so we will go with that.

Local legend also has it that two whales were released in the lake in 1875 for the intent of using them for a tourist attraction. Supposedly, the whales "disappeared" into the lake and there have been no confirmed sightings since. Shocker.

Besides possibly being home to a monster and two dead whales, the lake also has one of the highest mercury levels of any body of water. While most fish cannot live in the lake due to the salinity level, if you do manage to catch a fish, you better not eat it. This lake is basically a giant salty death trap, so go and enjoy the views...if you dare.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake, located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Utah, is the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere, and the eighth-largest terminal lake in the world. In an average year the lake covers an area of around 1,700 square miles (4,400 km2), but the lake's size fluctuates substantially due to its shallowness. For instance, in 1963 it reached its lowest recorded size at 950 square miles (2,460 km²), but in 1988 the surface area was at the historic high of 3,300 square miles (8,500 km2). In terms of surface area, it is the largest lake in the United States that is not part of the Great Lakes region.

The lake is the largest remnant of Lake Bonneville, a prehistoric pluvial lake that once covered much of western Utah. The three major tributaries to the lake, the Jordan, Weber, and Bear rivers together deposit around 1.1 million tons of minerals in the lake each year. As it is endorheic (has no outlet besides evaporation), it has very high salinity (far saltier than seawater) and its mineral content is steadily increasing. Due to the high density resulting from its mineral content, swimming in the Great Salt Lake is similar to floating. Its shallow, warm waters cause frequent, sometimes heavy lake-effect snows from late fall through spring.

Although it has been called "America's Dead Sea", the lake provides habitat for millions of native birds, brine shrimp, shorebirds, and waterfowl, including the largest staging population of Wilson's phalarope in the world.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Great Salt Lake.