Spiral Jetty Earthwork Sculpture Plus Two Short-eared Owl Photos

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Spiral Jetty - May 20, 2018, Box Elder County, UtahSpiral Jetty – May 20, 2018

I drove my Mom up to the Spiral Jetty yesterday morning and along the way did some bird photography and enjoyed the scenery. Locals know about the Spiral Jetty but many out of staters and people from other countries might not so I thought I’d write a little about it and its history.

The Spiral Jetty is an earthwork sculpture built on the shore of the Great Salt Lake that was constructed in 1970 and it was designed by American sculptor Robert Smithson, as the sculpture was being constructed Smithson also filmed it and named the movie “Spiral Jetty”.

The structure is 1500 feet in length and 15 foot wide, the jetty was constructed using mud, salt crystals, and basalt rocks in a counterclockwise coil. The Spiral Jetty reminds me of an unfurling fiddlehead fern or the Māori Koru symbol that I used to wear on a necklace given to me by a friend from New Zealand which symbolizes new life, growth, strength and peace and was fashioned after the Koru Fern of New Zealand.

Sometimes the Spiral Jetty is partially submerged or totally submerged depending on the level of the lake. The water color in and around the Spiral Jetty can be blue or other colors such as red because of the presence of salt-tolerant bacteria and algae that thrive in the extreme 27 percent salinity of the lake’s north arm. The lake level is low right now and has been for several years due to our ongoing drought plus wasteful and unsustainable water usage from the rivers that feed the Great Salt Lake so there is very little water around the artwork.

This photo taken yesterday shows the Spiral Jetty with people walking towards it from the water of the Great Salt Lake.

Male Short-eared Owl on a white fence post, Box Elder County, UtahMale Short-eared Owl on a white fence post – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

As I mentioned above, I did do some bird photography yesterday on the way to and from the Spiral Jetty. I saw more than eight Short-eared Owls and I was able to photograph two of them as they perched on fence posts.

Short-eared Owl looking off into the distance, Box Elder County, UtahShort-eared Owl looking off into the distance – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

These two Short-eared Owls were cooperative and stayed on their perches long enough for me to take a nice series of images of both of them. The other Short-eared Owls we saw were further away or not as cooperative.  I was delighted to be able to show my Mom these owls.

Life is good.



  1. Pepe Forte May 23, 2018 at 11:11 am

    Great owl pics and I particularly enjoyed your history of the Spiral Jetty. Fascinating. Thanks Mia.

  2. Utahbooklover May 21, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    The low water level makes it easy to see these days, which my wife and I did a few years ago.
    Nice images all but I especially enjoyed the beauty of the short-eared owls. Thanks!

  3. Elephants Child May 21, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    EIGHT owls of any flavour would be a red letter day for me.
    Add in the Spiral Jetty and excellent company and life is better than good.

  4. Jane Chesebrough May 21, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    i have seen photos of the Spiral Jetty, amazing that it has not washed away Thanks for explaining the symbolism.The two owls were definitely a bonus on your trip.

  5. Patty Chadwick May 21, 2018 at 11:14 am

    Spiral jetty is interesting…Love both shots of SEO…Especially the second…these are so essentially OWL…love how they look…

  6. Bob mcpherson May 21, 2018 at 6:33 am

    Cool photos, Mia

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