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Fact Friday: Did you know there are naturally occurring pink lakes?


Introducing Lake Retba, one of the world's naturally occurring pink lakes... Why the heck is it pink?

Meet Lake Retba. While it may look like a strawberry milkshake, it’s actually a natural body of water, measuring 1.1 square miles, located an hour east the capital city Dakar, Senegal on the west coast of the African continent.

Lake Retba

Image courtesy, Daily Mail – Two salt boats bob in Lake Retba amidst a sea of milky pink

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“The strawberry [color] is produced by salt-loving organism Dunaliella salina. They produce a red pigment that absorbs and uses the energy of sunlight to create more energy, turning the water pink,” Michael Danson, an researcher specializing in extremophile bacteria from Bath University, told The Daily Mail. “Lakes like Retba and the Dead Sea, which have high salt concentrations, were once thought to be incompatible with life – hence the names. But they are very much alive.”

Depending on the intensity of sunlight and whether it’s the rainy or dry season, the water actually ranges in color from rusty brown to lilac to reddish pink. And those sand dunes…? They are actually piles of salt.

Lake Retba

Image courtesy, Daily Mail – Lake Retba looking pleasingly pink

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photo credit: Jeff Attaway via photopin cc -Lake Retba with a browner tint

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The locals have been mining Lake Retba for its salt using the same method handed down through generations. The men wade in waist-deep and scrape the bottom of the lake with their hands to gather the salt which they collect in baskets in their canoes. The salt is taken back to shore, washed, and allowed to dry in the sun.

Salt Collector in Lake Retba

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Because of its high salt content, which can be up to 40%, not much else can live in Lake Retba. It serves as one of west Africa’s most bizarre landmarks. To see more pictures, read about Lake Retba or even plan your next visit to Senegal you should check out Lake Retba’s official website.

Are there other pink lakes?

Interestingly, Lake Retba is not the only pink lake in the world. Closer to home, near the South Bay of San Francisco you can find this beautiful stained-glass picture. This may not be there forever, though… According to who is working to secure public control over the salt production ponds, “Over 16,000 acres of diked ponds will be restored gradually to both tidal and non-tidal marsh, replenishing a tattered Bay ecosystem and providing recreation to improve the region’s quality of life.”

SF Bay Salt Ponds Jerry Ting
Img. Credit, Jerry Ting – San Francisco Bay Salt Ponds from the sky

Did You Like Learning About Pink Lakes?

There are at least 8 other naturally occurring pink lakes around the world, from Spain to Australia. To learn more about them, read this post on

We hope you enjoyed learning more about interesting bodies of water around the world AND that you have a chance to hit the nearest body of water near you in your boat this weekend!

Happy Boating!

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