Lake Retba is less than an hour away from the capital city of Senegal. Lake Retba will surely catch the unsuspecting visitor’s eye because of its unusual yet vivid pink colour. Lake Retba or Lac Rose as it is known by the locals is separated only by some narrow dunes from the Atlantic Ocean and as expected its salt content is very high, in fact its salinity content compares to that of the dead sea and during dry season it exceeds it.
Its unique pink colour is caused by Dunaliella salina bacteria which is attracted by the lakes salt content. The Dunaliella salina bacteria produces a red pigment in order to absorb the sunlight, thus giving the lake its distinct colour. Lake Retba’s colour is especially visible during the dry season, which lasts from November to June, and is less visible during the rainy season, which lasts from July to October.
The Dunaliella salina bacteria which gives the lake is distinct colour is completely harmless to humans and swimming in the lake is possible, not many living organisms are able to survive in Lake Retba because of its high salt content but Salt lake fish dwarfism. A researcher holding a small tilapia fish caught in Lake Retba, these fish have adapted to life in a salt lake by becoming four times smaller than when they live in a normal environment.
This kind of adaptation is known as dwarfism, so it serves mainly as a tourist attraction and for salt production. In fact if you decide to visit the lake you will constantly see salt collectors working at the lake and the shores of Lake Retba. The lake is only 3 square kilometres which is about 1.1 square miles and there is no major town been developed along its shores. When visiting the lake you will be amazed by the contrast of the mountains of salt packed up next to the lakes shore.