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!

Resources:amusingplanet.com, dailymail.co.uk

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222 Comments
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  • cool9/19/2014
    so cool
    • star_girl
      star_girl8/24/2014
      A PINK LAKE????
      • Azhakan7/6/2014
        Wiki-leaks docs say it's coming from Pink Panther's bathtub drain.
        • tatiana9
          tatiana99/17/2014
          I LOVE PINK PANTHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        • Jan5/30/2014
          I'm 67 years old and have never known there was a pink lake somewhere. And there's another in Australia. Amazing! The Salt Lake in northern Utah is so salty that people cannot sink. It keeps them afloat. It sounds like this one might do the same--at least in some seasons. Does anyone know?
          • Tiara4/1/2014
            This is so awesome, I never knew that there would be pink water somewhere in this world!! I just want to take a straw and drink it because it looks so good. But there is no telling what is in that water..
            • Monk- 4/1/2014
              if u went in to swim it it would your skin be dyed pink or anything or would it keep your skin color the same
              • Pink luver2/27/2014
                Does it dye you pink PINK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                • like2/25/2014
                  very interesting
                  • paint2/16/2014
                    it looks like paint!!! but its really cool thought =)
                    • Interesting....2/10/2014
                      I don't know why, but I kind of want to get a big straw and drink it all up. It just looks like a big smoothie! :)

                      Vocabulary

                      algaalgaeantioxidantsbeta-carotenedietaryhuesphytoplanktonsaline

                      Geography

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