Pink Lake Retba, Senegal
Having been at some point a child, you will certainly have dreamed of a lake made of strawberry milkshake. We can now reveal that it does exist. Okay, so it’s not exactly made of milkshake, but Senegal’s Lake Retba is certainly the right shade of pink.
Lake Retba’s amazing colouration derives from its high salt concentration — one and a half times higher than the Dead Sea. This makes it a prime habitat for halobacterium, a type of single-celled halophile (salt-loving) microorganism which is red or purple in colour. The water of lake actually changes from mauve to deep pink in colour, depending on the time of day and amount of sunlight.
Also known as Lac Rose (French is the official language of Senegal), the amazing pink lake is situated on the Cap Vert peninsula about 35km north of Dakar. That is the same Dakar of the Paris-Dakar rally, the mental Sahara desert motor race, for which Lake Retba is often the suitably amazing finishing point. In short, this place is generally a hive of extremophiles — halobacteria and high-octane racers alike.
For most of the year salt fishing is the major activity of the lake. Workers spend 10-12 hours a day in the water scraping salt from the lake bed, their skin rubbed with butter from the Shea nut to protect it from the inhospitable salinity of the water. Seen from above, with piles of white salt lining the shore, the lake appears as a pool of colour in a black and white landscape.
Looking for more microorganism-enhanced waters? Check out Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bay.