Salton Sea

Restoring the Salton Sea is critical for millions of migratory birds and the health of 650,000 regional residents.

Frank Ruiz, Director of Salton Sea Programs with Audubon California, looks out at the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is one of the most important places for birds in North America and is in danger of losing its ecological value. As the Sea changes, we face losing a vital part of the Pacific Flyway and a toxic dust bowl that will threaten public health for more than a million Californians.

As part of the Colorado River Delta, the sea filled and dried for thousands of years prior to its current, 35-mile-long incarnation, which came into existence as the result of a massive flood of the Colorado River in 1905. The 330-square-mile Sea has partially replaced wetland habitat lost to agricultural and urban conversion in the Colorado River Delta, California’s coast, and the San Joaquin Valley.

The Sea is a globally significant Important Bird Area (IBA). For the past century, the Sea has served as a major nesting, wintering, and stopover site for millions of birds of approximately 400 species. Until recent years, tiny Eared Grebes wintered by the thousands in rafts far out on its surface. American White Pelicans roosted on mudflats and fished for tilapia in its shallows.  Migratory shorebirds stopped to migrate and feed along the Sea’s edge. Today’s avifauna is shifting – the Sea is losing the fish-eating birds such as pelicans and cormorants because fish populations are disappearing.  Eared Grebes, who have fed on pile worms, are also declining rapidly, from millions to several thousand. Shorebirds, however, that feast on invertebrates along the shore edges, as well as shallow feeding ducks such as Northern Shoveler and Ruddy Duck, are still wintering at, or passing along the Sea, in massive numbers.

Recently, its water level dropped to the point that colonial seabirds began abandoning nesting sites en masse in 2013, and shallow, marshy habitat areas at the sea’s edge have begun to rapidly vanish, particularly at the south end. In 2017, inputs of Colorado River water were transferred from local agricultural uses to urban uses on the coast. As less water flowed into the Sea, it shrunk considerably, becoming more saline and inhospitable to birds, fish, and insects.

We must take immediate action at the Salton Sea to protect human health and establish viable habitat for millions of migratory birds.

Meet Frank Ruiz of Audubon California who is a powerful champion for the health of his family, the local communities, and the Salton Sea in the video below.

Intermountain West Shorebird Survey: Preliminary Results Indicate 250,000 Migratory Shorebirds at the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Intermountain West Shorebird Survey: Preliminary Results Indicate 250,000 Migratory Shorebirds at the Salton Sea

Conservation investments at the Salton Sea must embrace a holistic approach, considering the well-being of all waterbirds, including shorebirds.

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Proyecto de Humedales de Bombay Beach
Proyecto de Humedales de Bombay Beach

Proyecto de Humedales de Bombay Beach

Cómo un humedal emergente en la Laguna Salton Sea ofrece nuevas esperanzas para las aves migratorias y las comunidades locales.

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Salton Sea Information and Resources
Salton Sea

Salton Sea Information and Resources

Discover the data and resources about the habitats and changes happening at the Salton Sea from across the network.

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Bombay Beach Wetland
Bombay Beach Wetland

Bombay Beach Wetland

Audubon California has begun the planning phase for the restoration and enhancement of the newly emerging Bombay Beach Wetland, located by the town of Bombay Beach at the Salton Sea.

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Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Common Birds Guide
Salton Sea

Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Common Birds Guide

Our new, downloadable pocket field guide features some birds of the Coachella Valley that are culturally significant to the Cahuilla people of the Torres-Martinez Band.

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Guía de aves comunes de los Cahuilla del Desierto Torres-Martínez
Salton Sea

Guía de aves comunes de los Cahuilla del Desierto Torres-Martínez

Estamos estrenando nuestra nueva, descargable guía de campo de algunas aves del Valle de Coachella, las cuales son culturalmente importante para los Cahuilla.

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Birds of the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Birds of the Salton Sea

More than 400 species of birds come to the Salton Sea in California.

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More about the Salton Sea

A Shorebird Lover’s Paradise at the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

A Shorebird Lover’s Paradise at the Salton Sea

Conducting community science during a glorious spring migration for the Intermountain West Shorebird Survey

Chuckwalla National Monument
Public Lands

Chuckwalla National Monument

Protecting California's stunning desert landscapes

Intermountain West Shorebird Survey: Preliminary Results Indicate 250,000 Migratory Shorebirds at the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Intermountain West Shorebird Survey: Preliminary Results Indicate 250,000 Migratory Shorebirds at the Salton Sea

Conservation investments at the Salton Sea must embrace a holistic approach, considering the well-being of all waterbirds, including shorebirds.

Twenty Years On, Historic Water Deal Still Fails to Deliver for Salton Sea
Water

Twenty Years On, Historic Water Deal Still Fails to Deliver for Salton Sea

— Green heron at the Salton Sea
Bills to Save Birds: Audubon California’s Sponsored and Priority Bills 2023
Audublog

Bills to Save Birds: Audubon California’s Sponsored and Priority Bills 2023

A suite of legislation towards conserving California's natural treasures

Study Finds Local Salton Sea Residents Would Use Recreational Facilities at a Healthy Sea
Salton Sea

Study Finds Local Salton Sea Residents Would Use Recreational Facilities at a Healthy Sea

— Locals say outdoor recreational infrastructure at California’s largest lake would be an asset to the area.
Audubon California’s Frank Ruiz Named to California Colorado River Board
Audublog

Audubon California’s Frank Ruiz Named to California Colorado River Board

— “…a longtime advocate for water and the Salton Sea who puts the wellbeing of communities above all else.”
Audubon California’s Samantha Arthur to Head Salton Sea Management Program
Audublog

Audubon California’s Samantha Arthur to Head Salton Sea Management Program

— “…a consummate professional with a profound understanding of the intersections of water, agriculture, communities and wildlife.”
Salton Sea Partnership Calls on Governor to Commit to Measurable Progress at the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Salton Sea Partnership Calls on Governor to Commit to Measurable Progress at the Salton Sea

— Newsom Visits Potential Lithium Recovery and Habitat Sites around Sea
Bill to Create State Salton Sea Conservancy Introduced in California Senate
Salton Sea

Bill to Create State Salton Sea Conservancy Introduced in California Senate

— Entity would better manage projects across complicated landscape

How you can help, right now