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Eastern California’s Mono Lake is home to very little besides swarms of semi-aquatic flies and some brine shrimp. Yet every Spring, thousands of seagulls use this salty reservoir as a refuge. In the seclusion on the lake’s islands, the birds nest and rear their chicks. During this period, the gulls demonstrate a surprising resourcefulness, feeding solely on the aforementioned brine shrimp and flies. In turn, the gulls aren’t treated like the rats with wings that most beach goers would. Instead, researchers considered them to be a perfect indicator species for the overall health of the lake, particularly in an age of climate change. As the lake levels drop, its salinity rises. And with that rise, the local ecosystem struggles along with the Gulls’ chicks.
Produced by Luke Groskin
Filmed by Christian Baker
Music by Audio Network
Additional Footage Provided by Ryan Christensen/Bristlecone Media, Mono Lake Committee, Shutterstock, NASA Earth Observatory, Erik Olsen (CC BY 3.0), Vorm Sterber (C.C. BY 2.0),Seamus Campbell (C.C. BY 2.0)