Little Pink Aliens
This is Hutt Lagoon, a salt lake in western Australia that looks like a scene from another planet. Photographer Steve Back noticed its odd pink hue from the air and captured this gallery of stunningly alien waterscapes.
The really cool part is why it’s pink and red. This lake has such high salt concentration that it’s almost devoid of life. The key word there is “almost”. An algae called Dunaliella salina is able to survive in the salty environment by producing the chemical glycerol, a viscous substance that helps it not get pickled by the brine. The pink color comes from the algae’s high beta-carotene concentration, a pigment they produce in order to protect themselves from intense sunlight as these shallow pools evaporate in the Australian heat.
It’s a similar tale of algae and pigments as the story of why flamingos are pink. I think they’d have a field day at this rose-colored buffet. It’s proof again that no matter how harsh or inhospitable we view an environment, evolution’s powerful, creative hand can mold a creature able to live there. As long as a few basic ingredients for life exist, life will exist.
FORGIVE ME SIR, FOR I MUST GO.