Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Eureka Dune grass Under the Moon

Eureka Dune grass is often the only plant found on the higher slopes of the dunes. Its dense root system catches and holds drifting sand, forming stable hummocks. Stiff, spiny leaf tips protect the plant from being disturbed by herbivores and careless hikers. Federally listed as an endangered species.

About Eureka Dunes:

At first glance the Eureka Dunes appear desolate. What could possibly survive the hardships of this area? Plants and animals must endure the shifting sands, as a windstorm could bury them alive or expose them to the drying sun. The dry surface is deceptive, for dunes can hold water like a sponge. The Eureka Dunes receive more rainfall than others in the Death Valley area because their location at the western base of a mountain range that captures precipitation from passing storms. For perhaps 10,000 years these dunes have existed, providing a unique habitat for specialized lifeforms to evolve. The isolation of Eureka Dunes from other dune fields has led to the development of endemic species of plants and animals that are found nowhere else in the world. Besides 5 species of endemic beetles, 3 special plants have their entire range limited to this island of sand.

Canon 5D Mark III, 1.6 sec., ƒ16.0, Zeiss 18mm, 100, Digital