Westgate Park: Why an Australian lake has turned pink

Image source, Parks Victoria
Image caption,
Locals have been tickled pink but the lake is expected become blue again with cooler weather

A salt lake in Melbourne has turned pink due to a combination of sunlight, warm temperatures and low rainfall.

Wildlife officers said algae growing in the salt crust at the bottom of Westgate Park's lake produce a red pigment.

"Enjoy the views, but we recommend you don't come into contact with the water," Parks Victoria said.

The phenomenon also occurs in Spain's Salina de Torrevieja, Canada's Dusty Rose Lake and Senegal's Lake Retba.

Image source, Parks Victoria
Image caption,
It may look like a strawberry milkshake but it is more than 10 times saltier than seawater

In Australia, the natural occurring sight can be seen in Victoria's Murray-Sunset National Park and Western Australia's Lake Hillier.

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Dr Mark Norman, Parks Victoria chief conservation scientist, said the colouration was caused by a harmless, single-cell alga known as Dunalliela.

"It's completely natural," he said. "We often get comments that it looks like an industrial accident of pink paint."

Image source, Parks Victoria
Image caption,
The natural phenomenon also occurs in Victoria's Murray-Sunset National Park

Dr Norman said that even though the water is not dangerous, he would not recommend taking a swim.

"It's so salty and muddy on the bottom that you would come out looking like a frosted rum ball, especially when you dried," he said.

Parks Victoria said the lake is expected to return to blue when the weather cooled and the rainfall increased.