7

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.

3

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.

Amazing!

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

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WEIRD PLACES: AUSTRALIA’S BRIGHT PINK LAKE

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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Honckenya peploides
08/10/2013
Family: Carophyllaceae (Campion)
Genus: Honckenya
Species: H. peploides
Common Name:  Sea Sandwort
Location: NT653786
Habitat: Found growing by the seaside, this plant is a halophile and can grow in high salt concentrations in stable sand,puts out little white flowers from May to August. Specimen found growing next to Salicornea europea, Chenopodium rubrum & Artemisia maritima.
Determiner: Dr Richard Milne
Authority: (L.) Ehrh.

Characterization of an organic solvent-tolerant thermostable glucoamylase from a halophilic isolate, Halolactibacillus sp. SK71 and its application in raw starch hydrolysis for bioethanol production.

Pubmed: http://dlvr.it/6grp5C

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

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