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Pink Lake Retba. Senegal

One of the most unusual lakes in the world is in 30 km from Dakar – the capital of Senegal – in the north-east of the Cape Verde Peninsula. This is a Pink Lake or Lake Retba. The locals know it as Lac Rose. It occupies an area of about 3 square kilometers. The maximum depth of the lake is less than 3 meters.

Long ago, this lake was a lagoon, but the surf eventually has covered the duct connecting the lagoon with the ocean with sand and lagoon has turned into a pretty deep saltwater lake. In the 1970s, the period of drought, the lake became shallow. Since then, people began to extract salt that covered the bottom of the lake with a thick layer. The salt concentration here is in one and a half times higher than in the Dead Sea – three hundred eighty grams per liter! At the same time, the water in the lake has acquired a pink tint. This is due to the microorganisms – cyanobacteria, the only creatures capable to exist in such salty water.

In this lake, as well as in the Dead Sea, you can easily lie on the surfaces and don’t sink.

This attracts great amount of tourists. And of course the color! The color of the water of this extraordinary lake can change its color from light pink to brown. Especially in windy weather the lake acquires the most saturated tint, because of the activity of cyanobacteria which produces more enzyme that colors water in the color pink.

People extract about twenty-five thousand tons of salt per year, and thereby deepen the lake removing a layer of salt. And only about 20 years ago, the lake water was knee-deep. The work of obtaining salt in such lake is very difficult and painful! Water with such salt concentration is able to corrode the skin till the formation of ulcers in just half an hour. To avoid wounds, workers are rubbed with oil before getting into the boat. This special oil is made of the fruit of tallow tree.

Extraction of salt from the water on Retba is carried out by men. At first, they loosen the salt on the bottom and blindly put it into a basket. Then, they allow draining out excess water from the basket and transfer the salt into the boat. Then, the girls are doing their part – they carry salt in plastic basins to the coast and dump it there to dry.

Next, women wash and sort out the salt of the unnecessary mud and sand. Each pile of salt has a name plate holder. The purified salt is transferred into the common pile. Such salt piles stretch for three kilometers along the shore of the Pink Lake. Then the salt lies on the shore for one-two years, becomes faded to the usual white color due to the bright sun of Senegal and gets to the export to Africa and Europe.

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