DR Ambedkar IAS Academy

Pink, red lakes across the world: What gives water bodies their colour? Find out

The shallow salt lake in Bolivia is also known as Red Lagoon because of the blood-like deep red colour it exhibits.

By Reya Mehrotra

Lonar lake in Maharashtra recently made headlines when the water turned pink. Not just lakes, snow too has changed colour to pink in some parts of the world. Scientists say this could be the effect of climate change. Here, we take a look at some pink and red lakes across the world. Compiled by Reya Mehrotra

Lonar lake
Also known as Lonar Crater, the lake is a national geo-heritage monument. It is situated in Lonar in Buldhana district of Maharashtra. It is said to have been created after an asteroid collided with earth thousands of years ago. In June, it was observed that the lake changed its colour from green to pink. According to Nasa, the change took place over a few days. Though any specific conclusion is yet to be derived, it is being assumed that the colour change could be the result of the microscopic life thriving in the water with high salt concentration.

Chott el Djerid
Also known as Lagoon of the Land of Palms, the salt lake is situated in Tunisia. It is also the largest salt pan of the Sahara desert. An endorheic basin, it floods in winter with the water from the distant Atlas mountains that contain dissolved minerals. As a result, pink, green, blue and other cosmic colours can be seen in its water. In spring, pink flamingos nest in the shores of the lake, making it a beautiful sight with pink water and pink birds.

Laguna Colorada
The shallow salt lake in Bolivia is also known as Red Lagoon because of the blood-like deep red colour it exhibits. Folklore says the colour of the water is the blood of the gods. However, science has better reason to believe that the colour has changed due to the presence of algae and rich minerals in the water. The lake contains the Borax islands that contain massive deposits of borax, the white colour of which contrasts with the red colour of the water.

Lake Hillier
This saline lake on the edge of Middle Island in western Australia is a sight for sore eyes because of its baby pink hue. It is said to get its hue from halobacteriaceae, a pink micro-organism that shows its colour in water with high salt concentration. Single-celled algae called Dunaliella salina can also be held responsible for its pink colour, as these remain green when conditions are favourable, but high amounts of light and salinity lead them to produce protective carotenoids.

Lake Retba
The pink lake lies in Dakar in north-west Africa and is known as Lac Rose by locals. The dunaliella saina bacteria causes its pink colour because of its high salinity, as the bacteria produces a red pigment to absorb the sunlight. It is pinkish in colour during the dry season and less pinkish during the monsoons. Its salinity content is nearly equal to the Dead Sea and even higher during the dry season. The lake is a popular tourist destination and serves as a sight for salt collection.

Lake Urmia
The hypersaline lake in Iran has shrunk to only 10% of its original massive size that once made it the sixth largest saltwater lake on earth. However, restoration programmes are on since 2019. The usually green lake, which is rich in potassium and other salts, turns pink due to the presence of pink-coloured algae. According to Nasa, the lake changed its colour rapidly between April and July in 2016 from deep green to deep red as its salinity increased.

Hutt Lagoon
The marine salt lake in western Australia is deep pink in colour. Like other pink lakes, its colour, too, comes from the carotenoid-producing algae and dunaleilla bacteria. The bacteria is known to be a good source for beta carotene, which is a good source of vitamin A and a food colouring agent. It is also commonly used in dietary supplements and cosmetics. The lake has the world’s largest microalgae production plant. The water of the lake remains more or less of the same colour throughout the year. However, its colour intensity varies during different months.

Dusty Rose Lake
Located in British Columbia, Canada, this is not a salt water lake, but gets its colour from pigmentation and the surrounding environment. The particulate in the glacial melt waters feeding the lake are known to cause the colour. Its surrounding rocks are also purple and pink in colour.

Masazir Lake
Situated in Azerbaijan, this lake is known for salt farming. At times, salt forms huge blocks on its waters. Large volumes of chloride and sulphate can be found concentrated in the ion composition of the water of the lake.

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