Solved: Australia’s Pink Lake Mystery

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Scientists have finally discovered why Lake Hillier is a strange neon colour.

Bubble-gum bath. A pool of strawberry milkshake.

Whatever you want to call it, this pink lake hidden away on an island in Western Australia’s Recherche Archipelago is a bizarre sight.

For years, Lake Hillier has intrigued and puzzled both scientists and visitors. What makes an ordinary body of water turn neon pink?

Now, we finally know the answer.

After collecting water samples, scientists from the eXtreme Microbiome Project (XMP) found the lake contained halobacteria and Dunaliella salina.

Red earth

[Image: NellsPhotography, Flickr]

Halobacteria, which thrives in salty environments like Lake Hillier, is naturally pink and more than capable of dyeing large bodies of water pink.

EXPLORE FOR MORE: Why Is This Desert Pink?

While D. salina algae is normally green, it relies on beta-carotene for photosynthesis, which can turn the algae red and make the water appear pink.

The scientists also detected Dechloromonas aromatica, which may be evidence of the lake’s history as a leather tanning station back in the early 1900s.

Many other countries have brightly-coloured lakes, but the causes of their eye-catching colours have been much easier to identify.

Canada’s Dusty Rose Lake, for example, is surrounded by pink/purple rocks which turn the water feeding the lake a lavender/baby pink colour.

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