Microbes are often synonymous with rot, decay, infection, and disease. When microbes are made visible—or worse, smellable—it signals danger, a situation best avoided. But microbes are unavoidable, essential as part of the ecology of the healthy human body and the global dynamics of biogeochemical cycles. The growing realization of microbial usefulness and diversity is changing our relationship to microorganisms from one of fear, isolation, and sterilization, to a more ecological understanding of symbiotic exchange. Bacterial Encounters is an exploration of nature and culture from a microbiological perspective, capturing the microbial ecology and the living diversity thriving after the death of the Salton Sea.