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Gross Photos: Salton Sea's Rotting Fish Balls

Fish balls on the shoreline

fish balls, Salton Sea

(Image credit: Elizabeth Heness, Kutztown University.)

Along the shores of California's salty Salton Sea, researchers made a rather gross, but fascinating discovery: Balls that of rotting fish flesh that had washed up to shore.

In this southward-directed photograph, note the high strand line of the adipocere fish balls. (Adipocere is decomposed flesh, also known as corpse wax.)

Closer view of fish balls

fish balls, Salton Sea

(Image credit: Elizabeth Heness, Kutztown University.)

Shoreline view of the fish balls. Note the high-water mark.

Fish balls on the shore

fish balls, Salton Sea

(Image credit: Elizabeth Heness, Kutztown University.)

Trenches in the shoreface beach deposits. Fish balls were only encountered in surface deposits.

Fish balls and fish bones

fish balls, Salton Sea

(Image credit: Elizabeth Heness, Kutztown University.)

Fish balls with tilapia skull bones.

More fish bones and fish balls

fish balls, Salton Sea

(Image credit: Elizabeth Heness, Kutztown University.)

Fish balls with parietal bones.

Sticky fish balls

fish balls, Salton Sea

(Image credit: Elizabeth Heness, Kutztown University.)

Bottom of shoe after walking through sticky fish balls.

Tilapia and fish balls

fish balls, Salton Sea

(Image credit: Elizabeth Heness, Kutztown University.)

Tilapia skeletal materials and fish balls.

Saved for eternity

fish balls, Salton Sea

(Image credit: Becky Oskin.)

Close-up of fish ball preserved in epoxy.

Fish ball specimens

Examples of fish balls retrieved by researchers from the shores of the Salton Sea.

(Image credit: Margariete Malenda, Kutztown University)

Examples of fish balls retrieved by researchers from the shores of the Salton Sea.

Cut fish ball

A Salton Sea fish ball cut in half.

(Image credit: Margariete Malenda, Kutztown University)

A Salton Sea fish ball cut in half.

A peek inside the fish ball

fish balls, Salton Sea

(Image credit: Elizabeth Heness, Kutztown University.)

Scanning electron microscope image of hematite inside a fish ball.