Bizarre Natural Phenomena Vol.33 - Barbie's Lake (Australian Lake Hillier)
Welcome to another miraculous phenomenon from mamma Earth! Today I'm going to show you a lake. As we all know lakes are usually blue, green or brown, the colors depend on the color of the sky and what is inside the lake, but did you know that there is a pink lake in Australia?
Lake Hillier in Western Australia gets its unique pink color probably from some salt-loving algae (dunaliella salina)...
...or bacteria known as halobacteria...
...or the reaction between salt and sodium bicarbonate in the water.
Well, scientists are not sure, but one thing is certain: It's a wonderful sight! Don't you agree?
Short info sheet
- Lake Hillier is situated on Middle Island (western Australia).
- It has a length of 600 meters and width of 250 meters (it is relatively small).
- It is 10 times saltier than the ocean.
- It was discovered by cartographer Matthew Flinder in 1802.
- People used to extract salt from it.
- Unlike other colored lakes, Lake Hillier is non-toxic and swimming in it is safe.
- It is not the only pink lake on the planet (you can find some in Canada, Senegal, Spain and Azerbaijan).
The dunaliella salina residents
As we have seen numerous times on this series, d. salina is another kind of extremophiles, which have been living in the saline waters of the lake. Those fellows produce carotenoids that can be found in their chloroplasts (yes, the lake could get its color the same way carrots do). Carotenoids are pigments that help the algae absorb sunlight better. They are found in abundance in lots of fruit and vegetables and are responsible for the beautiful yellow, orange, red and pink colors in them.
They love salt! And they are members of the archaea microbes family. They are one of the longest living organisms on the planet and they have the ability to hybernate in salt crusts for hundreds, even thousands of years. If you're wondering where to find them, you can look in any kind of pool with salt water (salt lake, inland sea or evaporating seawater pool) where they'll be painting the water with beautifully bright colors with the pigments found in their body, well cell to be more precise. Those fellows are so dependent on their saline environment that they cannot live anywhere else.
Interesting fact: They might be responsible for life on Mars. They can "develop a thin crust of salt that can moderate some of the ultraviolet light" which is plentiful on Mars. They'd just need to find a way to grow in low temperatures in the martian ice pools (when it melts to water). [source]
Senegal's Lake Retba also has this distinctive pink color because of its dunaliella salina guests. The high salinity of the lake leaves very little room for fish and other animals to live in it and the lake is mostly a tourist attraction and a salt source. Native salt collectors work in the lake using their hands and keep the extracted salt mainly for fish preservance.
And here is SciShow Hank to give us one of his unique presentations of this natural wonder:
Thank you for stopping by and giving this post a read. I hope you enjoyed it! If it got your curiosity-radar on, you can read some of the previous articles on this series:
28 - Northern Lights
29 - Light Pillars
30 - Earthquake Lights
31 - Fairy Circles
32 - Desert Roses
Special thanks and mentions:
Until my next post,
Steem on and keep smiling, people!