Post 5 – Silver Sands Beach
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Pick up a handful of sand and look at it. Does it look and feel different? This is Oolitic sand. It is round and smooth, consisting of concentric layers of calcium carbonate that formed around a central core of mineral fragments, or brine shrimp fecal pellets.
As you walk along, you may notice several different species of plants along the beach. Some of the shorter plants include cheat grass and sage brush. You may also find pickleweed– a halophylic or salt-loving plant that filters out salt water from Great Salt Lake’s sandy beaches and stores the salt in special plant cells. Pickleweed is an edible plant that tastes incredibly salty.
The tall plants are phragmites (“frag-my-teez”), a wetland grass. These reeds are not native to the area and are very invasive. There are projects to remove it going forward in some areas of Utah.
As you walk along the beach, you can see a change in the sand, where it becomes darker and more rough. This is tufa, a porous variety of limestone that often forms in super salty lakes. This is what the reefs of Great Salt Lake are made of!
Great Salt Lake State Park is home to cottontail rabbits, garter snakes and gopher snakes. Red foxes and deer are often seen along the upper part of the beach, and very rarely, an occasional rattlesnake is spotted.