A drone flying high above Australia's Lake Hillier has captured its alluring pink color contrasted against the surrounding eucalyptus and azure blue sea.
Lake Hillier is one of several rose-colored salt lakes from around the world, with science attributing the unique hues to specialized microorganisms that live off the water's high salinity. In Hillier's case, the waters are loaded with Dunaliella salina microalgae, which produces a pigment found in carrots, as well as dense concentrations of red halophilic archaebacteria that live in the surrounding salt crusts. As you might expect, these species have evolved what's akin to armor plating to survive such an extreme environment.
“The human cell is just like a papier-mache balloon,” Scott Tighe told The Kernel. Tighe helped lead an expedition to Lake Hillier in 2015 to study its unusual color. “It just kind of dissolves and pops open in hot soapy water. But bacteria has a very thick, impenetrable cell wall that you can say is analogous to armor plate. Think of it as Kevlar. Then it has a cell membrane that is like, a balloon that you blow up but only halfway. It’s hard to pop.”
As for visiting the lake, due to its isolated location on Middle Island and lack of access roads, your best bet is either by helicopter or private cruise. Once there, it's perfectly safe to take a dip and enjoy the water's bubble gum color, as the people in the video below discovered: