Salt Pond Ecosystem

The color of salt ponds range from pale green to deep coral pink, and indicate the salinity of the ponds. Microorganisms create these spectacular colors, changing their own hues in response to increasing salinity.

In low-to mid-salinity ponds, green algae proliferate and lend the water a green cast. As the salinity increases, an algae called Dunaliella out-competes other microorganisms in the pond, and the color shifts to an even lighter shade of green. In mid-salinity ponds, millions of tiny brine shrimp clarify the brine and contribute an orange cast to the water. And in mid-to high-salinity ponds, high salt concentrations actually trigger the Dunaliella to produce a red carotenoid pigment. Halophiles, such as Halobacteria and Stichococcus, also contribute red tints to the hypersaline brine.

Kite aerial photographs by Charles “Cris” Benton.


Lac Rose, Senegal

Pink Lake

Lake Retba, Senegal

Cap Vert peninsula about 35km north of Dakar

The pink colour comes the presence of halobacterium, a type of single-celled halophile (salt-loving) microorganism which is red or purple in colour. The  lake is extremely salty, 1.5 times saltier than the Dead Sea.

Salt fishing is done at the lake with workers spending 10-12 hours a day in the water scraping salt from the lake bed. The salt fishermen rub their skins with butter from the shea nut for protection from the salinity of the water.

The perceived colour of the lake changes with the type of sunlight, moving from mauve to deep pink. White salt lines the shores in some places.


See: http://amazingstuff.co.uk/nature/pink-lake-retba-senegal/#.UaDlAbW1FJI



In this edition of Weird Places, we visit Australia’s Lake Hillier, which is a shockingly flamboyant shade of pink. Hank’s here to tell you science’s best guess as to why. 

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Cakile maritima
Family: Brassicaceae (Cabbage)
Genus: Cakile
Species: C. maritima
Common Name: Sea Rocket
Location: NT516859
Habitat: As the name suggests this plant usually grows next to the sea. Most often found at the top of the beach where grasses such as Marram (Ammophila arenaria) and Sea Lyme (Leymus arenarius) begin to pop up.
Collector: Ewan Cole
Authority: Scop.

Pretty in Pink

Lake Retba, Senegal Credit: © WENN.com

Micrograph of Dunaliella salina

No photo-shopping here folks…that water is pink! It’s Lake Retba, aka Lac Rose, in the Cap Vert peninsula of Senegal. The pink is caused by the harmless Dunaliella salina halophile (an algae that can live in a very high salt concentration).   These free-floating microbes harvest energy from the sun through the process of…

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Halococcus salifodinae

Colored scanning electron micrograph of bundled H. salifodinae (brown), a specie of microorganisms from the domain Archaea. Archaea often resemble bacteria in size and shape, but possess genes and several metabolic pathways that are more closely related to those of eukaryotes. Because H. salifodinae thrive in water with very high concentrations of salt—so high that it would be deadly to most other forms of life—they are known as halophilic extremophiles.

© Eye of Science / Science Photo Library