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Summer Heat Turns This Siberian Lake Bright Pink

And it’s not the only one

smithsonian.com

The stereotypical image of Siberia might be a frozen wasteland, but the northern region of Russia still experiences summer heat waves similar to many northern regions. Unlike most lakes, however, when the summer heat rolls in, Lake Burlinskoye turns a bright shade of pink.

For most of the year, the water in Lake Burlinskoye looks like just about any other lake: a steely grey or blue, depending on the weather and how many clouds are drifting through the sky. But this lake isn't like any other, Burlinskoye is extremely salty, the Siberian Times reports. The lake is the largest single salt deposit in Western Siberia, and is a steady source for table salt. Burlinskoye salt was beloved by Russian royalty, and Catherine the Great reportedly only allowed salt from the lake at her dinner table.

Though the salt isn’t the whole reason that the lake turns pink every summer, it wouldn’t happen without it. The salty lake attracts a particular species of microscopic brine shrimp called Artemia salina—and like its Latin name implies, the little beasties love salt. The warming weather and high salt content makes for a perfect environment for the three-eyed, 22-legged shrimp, and as they multiply they turn the lake a vivid flamingo-pink, Cara Giamo reports for Atlas Obscura.

Usually, the lake turns pink in August as the warm weather and shrimp populations reach their peaks. But like the rest of the world Western Siberia has been experiencing unusually warm weather all year, causing Lake Burlinskoye to change colors weeks earlier than expected, the Siberian Times reports.

Burlinskoye isn’t the only bright-pink lake in the world—you can find them scattered throughout almost every continent, though the reasons for their color vary. While a pink-hued lagoon on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula gets its color from brine shrimp, Western Australia’s eponymous Pink Lake has similar seasonal color changes as Burlinskoye thanks to a balance of salt-loving algae and bacteria, Abigail Williams writes for the Huffington Post.

About Danny Lewis

Danny Lewis is a multimedia journalist working in print, radio, and illustration. He focuses on stories with a health/science bent and has reported some of his favorite pieces from the prow of a canoe. Danny is based in Brooklyn, NY.

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