It’s because of the tufa towers, which are the strange rock formations in the lake. Mono lake is a saltwater lake, which means it is loaded with minerals. These, namely salt and calcium, cling to plants and other natural formations, which gives the plants a coral-reef-like look. The towers, according to the citation,
“are an unusual form of tufa typically associated with saline lakes. They are distinct from most tufa deposits in that they lack any significant macrophyte component; this is due to the salinity excluding mesophilic organisms. Some tufa columns may actually form from hot-springs and therefore actually be a form of travertine. It is generally thought that such features form from CaCO3 precipitated when carbonate rich source waters emerge into alkaline soda lakes. They have also been found in marine settings.“
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