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Swim in Pink : The Pink Lake, Lake Retba

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Jun 30, 2012 01:21 PM EDT

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Do you love the color pink so much that you wish you could just swim in it? Make that dream a reality.

Lake Retba or Lac Rose in Senegal looks like a giant strawberry milkshake. Depending on the time of day, the lake, located off the Cap Vert peninsula of Senegal, north east of Dakar, can be anywhere from a light purple color, to the color of Pepto-Bismol.

The odd coloration is due to microorganisms living in the highly salty body of water. Some areas of the lake contain up to 40% salt.

Michael Danson, an expert in bacteria from Britain's Bath University explained the strange coloration of this mysterious lake to Amusing Planet.

"The strawberry colour 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."

The microorganisms are harmless, but the salt content is extremely high.

Due to the high salt content fn the lake, floating upon it is very easy, much like the Dead Sea. However the salt content of Lake Retba is one and a half times higher than that of the Dead Sea. "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," Danson said.

The salt of the lake is very beneficial for the locals as residents have been mining the salt since the 1970's. They mainly use the salt to preserve fish. They harvest the mineral by scraping the bottom of the lake and placing it in baskets. They then section the salt into small piles when back on land, which is why the border of the lake is surrounded by white hills of salt.

The high salt content can be a bit damaging, so salt miners cover their body with shea butter to protect their skin while in the ten foot deep lake.

For more photos of this phenomenon, check out Amusing Planet.

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