Australia’s Recherche Archipelago is home to 105 uninhabited islands that make up a nature reserve. Big and small alike, some support sea lions and waterfowl. Others just get in the way of shipping vessels. But there is one with something no other has: a pink lake.
It’s called Lake Hillier, and while it’s not the only pink lake in the world, it is one of the least studied due to its remote location. Most people – the majority of which are tourists – only see it from the seat of a circling plane.
Lake Hillier joins a short list of pink lakes around the world, most commonly full of salty water and color-producing algae. They include the likes of Lake Retba in Senegal and Masazir Lake in Azerbaijan.
So there is a presumption, but no confirmation, that what makes other lakes pink is what gives Lake Hillier its bubble-gum hue as well:
Red halophilic bacteria in salt crusts;
Dyes released from Dunaliella salina (a type of algae);
Or a unique composition of surrounding rock (e.g. glacial rock)
Despite the strange color, Lake Hillier’s water is thought to be safe for swimming. It has been collected before by wading visitors who found that the water stayed pink in their jars, ruling out a trick of the light.
Other pink lakes, like Retba, have very high salt contents (some of its salt is mined). And other salty waters, like the Dead Sea, increase buoyancy. So water in Lake Hillier might make for easy floating as well.