Salt Ponds

Sometimes when I'm in an airplane I find myself transfixed by the patchwork quilt of shapes and shades of natural colours formed by the agricultural fields below me. Although this intricate network appears to be part of a plan, I know it comes together quite by chance. Maybe that’s what makes it so captivating. Having said that, large purposefully engineered natural quilts do exist. Actually, they look more like stained glass windows than quilts. I’m talking here about salt evaporation ponds. And they are spectacular.

If you’ve ever flown over San Francisco Bay you would have seen the Cargill salt ponds in all their glory. By directing ocean water into a series of shallow ponds natural evaporation takes over and gradually removes all moisture. The byproduct of which is pure sea salt. Throughout the evaporation process the ponds take on an array of colours which are created by different types and concentrations of algae found in the water. As the salinity levels change so does the colour of these microorganisms. Low salinity levels produce blue-green and chartreuse hues. Mid salinity levels result in mustard yellows and high salinity invites pink and red tones. At some time during the transformation, due to the attraction of small brine shrimp, orange ponds also emerge.

A salt pond's mosaic of splashy pools remind us of mother nature’s industriousness and her ability to dazzle us with her inherent beauty.


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