An island of tufa towers reflects in Mono Lake. South Tufa Area, Lee Vining, California.
An intriguing island of tufa towers reflect in alkaline waters at South Tufa Area, in Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve, Lee Vining, California, USA. Orange algae forms colorful mats. The Reserve protects wetlands that support millions of birds, and preserves Mono Lake's distinctive tufa towers -- calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. Mono Lake has no outlet and is one of the oldest lakes in North America. Over the past million years, salts and minerals have washed into the lake from Eastern Sierra streams and evaporation has made the water 2.5 times saltier than the ocean. This desert lake has an unusually productive ecosystem based on brine shrimp, and provides critical nesting habitat for two million annual migratory birds that feed on the shrimp and blackflies. Since 1941, diversion of lake water tributary streams by the city of Los Angeles lowered the lake level, which imperiled the migratory birds. In response, the Mono Lake Committee won a legal battle that forced Los Angeles to partially restore the lake level.Add to Cart Add to Lightbox Download