Fish balls, fish balls, roly-poly fish balls…
Here is an update to a story we covered a little while back – the smelly Salton Sea in California. It was discovered to be from a fish kill that often happens at this location but now we get into the juicy stuff. It’s also so sticky, you have to scrape it off your boots. Blech!
Boneyard beaches littered with dead tilapia line the shores of California’s Salton Sea. Thousands of fish die here every year, suffocated when winds stir up low-oxygen water from the lake depths.
A fascinating and foul discovery on the skeleton-clad shores recently revealed the fate of the rest of the fish remains. Their flesh drops to the lake floor, where anaerobic bacteria transforms it into adipocere, also known as corpse wax, researchers from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania reported here Monday (Oct. 28) at the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting.
Perhaps disturbed by fierce winds, globs of decomposed fish flesh recently rose from deep in the Salton Sea, coagulated into spheres on the lake surface and surfed the waves to shore, leaving the high-water line littered with thousands of sticky fish balls.
Dr. Ed Simpson <Waves ‘hi’, remember us? You sawed my geode open in 1994> says he’s not seen anything like this before and thinks something is changing in the Sea. “To me, something is fundamentally changing [in the Salton Sea] that’s generating these adipocere,” Simpson said. “I went back and looked at historic photos of the shoreline and didn’t see them, and we dug trenches and didn’t find any.”
The Sea is a unique environmental catastrophe.
Tip: Michael Hill