Lake Natron, Tanzania
June 22, 2003
If Lake Natron, in Africa’s Great Rift Valley had a color theme, it would be pink. The alkali salt crust on the surface of the lake is often colored red or pink by the salt-loving microorganisms that live there. And the lake is the only breeding area for the 2.5 million Lesser Flamingoes that live in the valley. These flamingoes flock along saline lakes in the region, where they feed on Spirulina (a blue-green algae with red pigments). Lake Natron is the only breeding location for Lesser Flamingoes because its caustic environment is a barrier against predators trying to reach their nests. The temperatures in the mud can reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Farenheit), and depending on recent rainfall, the alkalinity can reach a pH of 9 to 10.5 (almost as alkaline as straight ammonia).
Topics: Environment, Lake Natron, Phoenicopteridae, Fauna of Africa, Sodium compounds, Carbonate minerals