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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243 Comments
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  • peacheslarue
    peacheslarueFriday, November 28, 2014 at 7:48 am
    it's a DREAM COME TRUE!!!!!!
    • happypug12
      happypug12Friday, November 28, 2014 at 7:36 am
      The water should be all the colors of the rainbow!
      • nikukyu
        nikukyuFriday, November 28, 2014 at 5:13 pm
        Omg I would totally go there if it were!
      • kell-bell
        kell-bellTuesday, November 18, 2014 at 5:16 pm
        O_O I WANT TO SWIM IN IT AND LIVE HAPPY EVER AFTER
        • 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?
          • w0lfl0ver4life
            w0lfl0ver4lifeMonday, December 15, 2014 at 1:18 pm
            "Orange Is The New Black" is a show about... idk... my parents watch it and ppl think its cool so I guess ppl think its cool to b like blue is the new black
            • sherlockcutepup
              sherlockcutepupWednesday, November 19, 2014 at 3:20 pm
              you are right Spinnypeeps
            • mishaalTuesday, November 18, 2014 at 5:02 am
              awesome
              • coolnicki477
                coolnicki477Monday, November 17, 2014 at 7:15 pm
                PINK IS THE NEW BLACK!!
                • nikukyu
                  nikukyuThursday, November 27, 2014 at 2:16 am
                  Maybe. : |
                  • sherlockcutepup
                    sherlockcutepupWednesday, November 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm
                    really.>:(
                  • nikukyu
                    nikukyuMonday, November 17, 2014 at 4:18 am
                    Strawberry😋
                    • 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!
                            • bibliophile
                              bibliophileFriday, November 28, 2014 at 10:47 am
                              I know, right??? Purple is like one of my favorite color(you can tell from my background color)... I like your background color nikukyu!!!
                              • nikukyu
                                nikukyuFriday, November 28, 2014 at 5:12 pm
                                Thanx bibliophile! I like ur background color too!

                          Vocabulary

                          algaalgaeantioxidantsbeta-carotenedietaryhuesphytoplanktonsaline

                          Geography

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