Australia is home to a great number of salt lakes, long known to the residents and used by them in a variety of ways. Land-yacht sailors like to cruise over Lake Lefroy in WA because its thick white surface is perfect for their sport. Another, Lake Eyre in SA has filled up only three times in recent history. It measures 9500 sq km across and is completely drenched in thick salty elements. Native Australians have long hunted the shores of some of these lakes for land animals, but never ventured onto the briny water.
One of these lakes in particular caught my eye because it’s very unique indeed! The color of the water is bubblegum pink – and it’s a natural formation. The name is Lake Hiller and it’s located on an island in the Middle Recherche Archipelago which is just off the coast of Western Australia. This archipelago is comprised of 100 islands all near a place called Cape Arid. Lake Hiller is about 600 meters across and is said to be mostly shallow.
Many wonder what causes the lake to be this bright pink. There are at least one or two other pink saline lakes in Australia, but scientists were able to determine they were dyed that color by an algae called Dunaliella salina. This algae produces a red dye that then colors the water around them.
However, in the case of Lake Hiller, scientists say Dunaliella salina are not the culprits behind the lake’s vibrant color. When people remove some of the water into a clear jar, the water remains bright pink so the coloration is definitely in the water, and not a reflection of color onto the water.
In the last century a salt mine operated on the lake, but was closed after only six years. The water was pink long before that time, which we know from historical records. One of the earliest records of this lake and its color comes from 1802 as noted by explorer Matthew Flinders. So the mining didn’t create the color in any way.
Scientists still aren’t sure what’s causing the coloration of this beautiful lake, but they suspect it’s a combination of nutrients found in the water in addition to the natural activity of bacteria and other algae found there.
I suppose one day they’ll know for sure, but in the meantime, it’s still a beautiful sight to behold, don’t you think?
If you’d like to see another beautifully colored lake, check out this link to the Devil’s Bath (Wai O Tapu) in New Zealand – fascinating stuff!
Til the next time!