Lake Retba

Lake Retba (Senegal).

The astonishing Lake Retba, which translates as “Pink Lake”, lies thirty kilometers from the capital of Senegal, Dakar. Looking at this pond, you might dream of drinking a huge strawberry milkshake. Nevertheless, this impression is deceptive: there is a salt lake in front of you, not a sugary dessert.

Why is the lake pink?

The Wolof tribe, the main ethnic group of Senegal, named the lake “Rose” or “Retba” for its unique colour.

For many years people have been wondering why the lake has such an unusual, pale pink color. Not so long ago, scientists have been able to shed light on the situation. Dunaliella salina unicellular algae is the reason of the lake’s uniqueness. It is in a heavy concentration in the lake and makes its waters pink. This microorganism appeared on Earth three and a half billion years ago.

Initially, Lake Retba was a creek, which joined with the ocean by a narrow channel. But the Atlantic surf, gradually pouring sand, turned the creek into an almost bottomless salt lake. In the 1975s, when a period of severe droughts began in Senegal, the lake became notably shallower.

TOP three exclusive facts about the Pink Lake?

You should visit the Pink Lake because it is not only fabulously beautiful, but also unusual. And that is why:

  1. There is no life, except for Dunaliella salina, in the lake Retba, neither plants nor animals. The reason is that the pond is so saturated with salt, that no living being can survive. People either are not allowed to stay in its waters for a long time: a concentrated salt solution can effortlessly decompose the skin.
  2. Scientists have found that the local concentration of salt in the water is approximately 380 g/l. Surprisingly, this is one and a half times more than in the Dead Sea. And it is only three metres deep, so one can not drown in Retba lake. You can securely float in shallow waters, while reading a newspaper.
  3. The color of the water can change its shade from pale to dark. Pigment saturation depends on the time of day, on whether there are clouds or not, and on the strength of the wind.

Is Retba lake a salt deposit?

Lake Retba’s shoreline is thickly spotted with flat-bottomed boats. It is neither fishing nor cargo boats. They serve only for salt exploitation. Nowadays, workers stand up to their necks in water, ladling salt from the bottom of the lake, while some twenty years ago the process was less complicated, as the water level reached the waist. Every year an enormous amount of salt is produced – about twenty-five thousand tons a year.

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