The Mysterious Object In The Salton Sea

A few months ago while exploring the abandoned Navy Base, Blake and I noticed a large object in the water a few miles north of the Navy Base pier. We could tell it was large, and it seemed to be man-made, but it was too far to make out exactly what it might be.

Picture of a mysterious man made object in the water of Salton Sea

2.2 miles from the Navy Base and 1.45 miles directly off shore

After arriving back at home, we checked on Google Maps, and we were able to determine that it is definitely man made.  It measures approximately 40 feet long and 35 feet wide.

close up picture of the mysterious object in Salton Sea

Closeup satellite image

The research I’ve done online reveals nothing about what it might be, leaving the mind open to anything from a air-quality test station to an alien landing base.

If you are a local and know what this object is, or might be, please post a comment below – the suspense is killing us!

To see the object on Google Maps CLICK HERE.


Thanks to Gary Reagles, who posted this information in the Facebook Salton Sea Group:

It is a old Navy test bomb station. Us fishermen called it the target. Best Corvina fishing around the pilings that it sits on. Square base with a man made iron mesh sail on it. Dummy bombs were dropped to test bomb sight accuracy. It is rumored the sights for the H bomb were tested there.
At some time the sight was Straffed by fighter planes. You can see the holes in the metal screen. In the early nineties Imperial county had a weather senser there like the one that was at Johnson landing. I have pics stored somewhere of our fishing excursions from Salton City. If I find them I will post a few.

Here is the picture of “the object” also known as “the target”, as promised by Gary Reagles:

Photo of "the target" at Salton Sea, California

“The Target”


  1. I was at the base last year and – through the haze – saw what I’d guess to be what you did. It almost looked like a manmade island or station of some sort. I was thinking something (refueling?) that had to do with the float planes that used to land there. Of course, didn’t have my binos with me at the time…

  2. I’m doing a 30 mile walk there this weekend and will be walking right by.. packing my binos for a closer look, and will report what i find if someone doesnt let me know before then.

  3. before it flooded in the early nineteen hundreds they mined salt from the the low areas of the sea.

  4. anonymous in salton

    It used to be part of the military base and was used for viewing bomb trajectory and testing… Now I believe it is used by SDSU Imperial county campus for weather information. There was an article online about it a few years ago but I can’t find it now. Its also a great destination to go and BBQ and hang out for the day lol even though you aren’t supposed to.

  5. Here is a link to a fishing article with a picture of “The Target.” I love the Salton Sea good luck!!

  6. I don’t believe this is a Navy target. It location doesn’t match any of the coordinates listed for Navy targets. Also, the official Navy history of the Salton Sea states that all the Navy targets were dismantled at the end of the War. I think this was built by the Atomic Energy Commission after the War as part of the $34,000,000 improvements they made to the Salton Sea Test Station.

    • Sid, I have confirmed through documentaion related to the construction of the test base, that this is indeed one of the 4 bomb-run targets built in the 1940’s. Two were in the water, and two on land.
      I have no way to know if what is still standing out there now is the original construction, or if it has been rebuilt at any point.

  7. Randy,
    Thanks for the information! Can you tell me anything about the construction documentation you mentioned? I have a presentation I give on the military history of the Salton Sea & I would like to be as accurate as possible. Sid

    • I have come into possession of about 10-boxes of documentation, mostly consisting of the report and plan to decommission the base. Included in this report are land surveys, naval memo’s (previously top secret) concerning the original construction, etc. I have only been able to read through 2 boxes so far, but have posted summaries/photos in this series of posts:
      Navy Base history posts.

  8. A long time ago me and some buddies built a ladder to get on top of it so if you can get a boat to get out there you should be able to climb on top of it.we built the ladder so we could jump off into the water.but be careful cause the water wasn’t deep back then when we jumped off we could touch the bottom with our feet.and now with the water going down even lower,I’m not sure how deep it is.i suggest going out with some jet ski’s

  9. I do not know the age or exact purpose of the structure, HOWEVER, I do recognize the large metallic triangle shape to be a RADAR reflector.

    It’s similar to the smaller RADAR reflectors that boats operating in large bodies of water may have in-order to be highly visible on marine RADAR, but in this case, I believe the RADAR reflector was designed to give a strong response to airborne RADAR, specifically from an aircraft that was on the ‘open’ side (far side in the photo) of the reflector.

    So my slightly educated-guess is that the structure could have been a target reference point (probably not a target itself) for aerial bombardment tests, *or* perhaps it was a RADAR navigational aid for nighttime helicopter operations at the site in the late 1970s/1980s.

  10. Did you have any idea of the depth on that area? will be a good scuba site?

    • A friend told me he fished there back in the 70’s and he put out about 80 feet of line. If true that’s 20 or 30 feet deeper than what is generally reported as the deepest parts. Either way, it would be at least 20 feet shallower today than back then, so it’s probably somewhere between 30 and 50 feet or so..
      Visibility in Salton Sea is usually no better than 1 foot, and usually less. not ideal for scuba diving.

  11. I fished in a boat next to the target in 1980. The rumors I hear are that only the pillelons are left . but I guess not.

  12. I have fished there since 1970, it has always been 28-35 feet deep there until 2004, (last corvine I caught) I have the numbers in my GPS. So the 8 foot deep guy is truly all wet!!!

  13. Hi I remember my dad taking me fishing there by the target area. What part of Salton Sea is it located at?

    • The post above gives the exact location of the target but the short version is about 9 miles south of Salton City and 1.45 miles offshore.

  14. In September of 2019, I launched my inflatable boat with an electric motor and sailed to this target. Here’s a video of my adventure:

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