These are a few among the many salt ponds that ring the south end of San Francisco Bay. Once considered and agricultural innovation and an economic boom, the practice of “reclaiming” wild wetlands for industrial purposes is now considered ecologically awful by environmentalists, especially here on the West Coast of the U.S., which has precious few wetlands in any case. Many environmentalists have been working to get Cargill to close the ponds and return the Bay to its more natural state. Cargill hasn’t budged. In fact, <a href=”http://www.cargill.com/sf_bay/saltpond_ecosystem.htm”>Cargill has its own views</a> on the matter, plus some interesting facts about the ponds themselves.

It’s worth pointing out that the Bay is actually one of the youngest features on the California landscape, having flooded within only in the last couple thousand years, as sea levels rose. (Global warming has been happening, in fact, since the last ice age.)

I took this shot two days ago on approach to San Francisco on a flight from Boston. Here’s a set of all the photos I’ve taken of salt ponds, both here and in the desert. And here is the whole set of shots I took from coast to coast. Most were at the ends of the flight, since the sky was undercast most of the way.

9 responses to “Whetlands”

  1. Doc, great shot. I once heard that the various colors indicated the presence of bacteria the thrive at particular levels of salinity. Apparently the Ohlone used this knowledge to figure out when to harvest the salt.

  2. Some friends and I took a photo hike down in that area a few years ago. This is what it looks like from the ground.


  3. Cargill is working to return thousands (15,000+) of acres back to wetlands.

    This was a link off the Cargill site you referenced.

  4. Cargill sold the acreage Pat refers to for a large sum of money. The remaining controversy surrounds the 1430-acre parcel in Redwood City which they retained and hope to fill and pave over with housing.

    More info, including photos and documentation:



  5. Cargill did sell the property for a large sum of money, but not nearly for market value. More than they paid for it, but less than they could of easily obtained.
    I don’t think Cargill is looking to pave over the old ponds for housing. Though there are a number of developers salivating over this land.
    To clarify, while I don’t speak for Cargill on this at all (these are my thoughts only), I used to work for Cargill Salt. I have been to that site numerous times.
    I think they are truly looking for a solution that benefits all parties; cities, developers, environmental groups, citizens.

  6. Please read
    Some time ago I was in contact with Reunion. I soon found that it was not meeting my need as almost all my links are within the British Isles. Now, every time I open my e-mail I receive a notice from Reunion asking me if I want to visit my site or ‘Do you really want to leave’ Reunion. There is no way of contacting Reunion in order to have my name removed. Inciidentally it does not seem to recognise my e-mail address/password.
    Will you please end my membership herewith?
    Alex Martin

  7. Doc, since I didn’t find a email for you I’m leaving this here, hope you catch it.

    I call it ‘My Neighbor’s Glacial Watering Holes’about Iowa’s glacial lakes.

    Neighbor Stranded Wind is doing the reporting.

  8. Thanks, RBM. My mail is simple: doc AT searls DOT com. I’ll check out the Iowa lakes.

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