The Great Salt Lake Utah is the lake from which Salt Lake City gets its name. Located in northwestern Utah, it’s the largest natural lake located west of the Mississippi River. The most unique thing about the lake is that its salt level is unusually high, because the lake doesn’t have an outlet.
Smaller tributary rivers carry in small amounts of salt as they flow into the lake. Over time, the water content of the lake evaporates in the semi-arid conditions of the area, leaving the salt behind. This cycle has been repeating itself over 30,000 years. The lake itself the remnant of Lake Bonneville, a great lake dating back to the Ice Age.
Because of the high saline level of the lake, it can’t support fish and many other aquatic species. What is common however is algae, of which several types do quite well in the saline waters. These algae serve as food for brine shrimp and brine flies, two important natural resources.
Brine shrimp are important to the health of the lake because they help to keep the algae population in check. The eggs they produce have also become an important revenue source for the state. The eggs are collected, and then shipped overseas where they’ll serve as food for prawn.
The Great Salt Lake serves as an important stop over for many migrating bird species, many of which feed upon the literal billions of brine flies that the lake supports. The flies rarely fly further that a short distance from the shoreline, and do not bite people that do encounter them. They’re value as a food source for migratory birds is immeasurable.
Attempts to develop the lake’s shoreline has proven to be frustrating. The lake is constantly fluctuating in size, its shoreline shifting by as much as 15 miles at times since measurements began to be recorded in 1849. As a result the lake is surrounded by extensive wetlands.
To educate the public about the environmental significance of the Great Salt Lake Utah officials formed Antelope Island State Park. Today, the state park serves as a recreation center, and visitors can camp in the state park in tents and recreational vehicles, for a fee.
Visitors enjoy swimming in the lake, because their bodies are more buoyant in the saline waters. Locals claim that the salinity is highest near Antelope Island, and therefore that is the best place to take a swim. No visit to the Salt Lake City area in Utah is complete without a visit to the Great Salt Lake, and Antelope Island.