January 21, 2015
Salt is Essential to Life for Flamingos
- as seen by -Julie Larsen Maher
On a lightly inhabited island in the Bahamas, this is a truth.
Morton Salt Company needed a spot rife with natural resources kissed by the sun and the wind. They set their sights on Great Inagua surrounded by the sea.
They found a very hot spot—an inhospitable mucky marsh best suited to mosquitoes. Hurricanes blow through the tangled mangroves leaving behind a gray glaze. Droughts scorch the landscape, sometimes lasting for years.
This is saline paradise.
Flamingos love these lands managed by Morton Salt. They flock to the dinner table on Great Inagua. The numerous shallow saltpans are teeming with algae and small invertebrate like brine shrimp—both on the flamingos’ list of favorite foods. As they dine, these filter feeders clean the evaporation ponds that make salt for the company. Morton Salt gets a better product and flamingos get a free meal.
The birds and the business have great synergy. In the last century or so, flamingos were nearly hunted out of Great Inagua. Good conservation measures by agencies and local people brought the brightly colored birds back in recent years, as has their steady diet of pink crustaceans from their man-made eateries.