The Secret Behind Senegal's Pink Lake

By Meera Dolasia on June 7, 2012

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The water in Senegal's Lake Retba always seems to have a pinkish hue to it. However, catch it during the dry summer months when the saline levels are high and you will see it turn strawberry pink and sometimes, even red. The good news is that color is not the result of chemicals being dumped in the lake but nature, working its magical tricks!

Located in the Cape Vert Peninsula that lies north east of Senegal's capital Dakar, the lake's unusual appearance is caused by a salt-loving green micro alga called Dunaliella Salina that resides in the lake, known for its high concentration of the mineral.

As you can imagine, very few organisms can survive in such highly saline conditions. The only reason this single-celled organism is able to do so, is because of its ability to create large amounts of Beta-Carotene, that helps protect it against the intense light that reflects off the salt and also gives the algae its dark pink hue.

While the color may make the lake appear eerie and unsafe, the micro organism is safe not only to swim amidst, but also, consume - Good news for the locals that are constantly wading in to mine the salt. In fact, the algae are so rich in antioxidants that they are often harvested and used in cosmetics and dietary supplements.


This is not the only tiny organism able to transform water hues. In San Diego,CA and many other parts of the world, high concentrations of phytoplankton during certain time of the year, help turn the ocean waters a bright red during the day and an even cooler bioluminescent blue, at night!,

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  • kell-bell
    kell-bellTuesday, November 18, 2014 at 5:16 pm
    • spinnypeeps
      spinnypeepsTuesday, November 18, 2014 at 3:42 pm
      1. That is extremely awesome. 2. Can somebody please explain to me why people say that pink is the new black or green is the new black? Because how can such a cheery, ice-creamy color like pink be the new BLACK?
      • sherlockcutepup
        sherlockcutepupWednesday, November 19, 2014 at 3:20 pm
        you are right Spinnypeeps
      • mishaalTuesday, November 18, 2014 at 5:02 am
        • coolnicki477
          coolnicki477Monday, November 17, 2014 at 7:15 pm
          • nikukyu
            nikukyuThursday, November 27, 2014 at 2:16 am
            Maybe. : |
            • sherlockcutepup
              sherlockcutepupWednesday, November 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm
            • nikukyu
              nikukyuMonday, November 17, 2014 at 4:18 am
              • colorfunThursday, November 13, 2014 at 8:25 am
                is the pink water deathly
                • sherlockcutepup
                  sherlockcutepupWednesday, November 19, 2014 at 3:22 pm
                  uhhhh...i do not know
                • cute-polish5674
                  cute-polish5674Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 6:41 am
                  That cool :-)
                  • littlemissy
                    littlemissyThursday, November 6, 2014 at 9:16 am
                    I don't like the color pink but it looks alright
                    • nikukyu
                      nikukyuThursday, November 27, 2014 at 2:19 am
                      Now someone's talking! Purple, purple, purple, PURPLE!
                    • hackforce
                      hackforceWednesday, October 22, 2014 at 9:54 am
                      is this safe???
                      • ikyra_marie
                        ikyra_marieMonday, November 17, 2014 at 10:00 pm
                        yup! It just has a high level of minerals in there. It's not from chemicals. It might dry your skin out though.
                        • nikukyu
                          nikukyuThursday, November 27, 2014 at 2:18 am
                          I wouldn't like that! I hate dry lips. It stings.
                      • robertTuesday, October 21, 2014 at 8:20 am
                        that is cool




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