Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Deadly Lake Where 75 Percent of the World's Lesser Flamingos Are Born: Lake Natron will kill a human, but flamingos breed on its salty water

   At the base of a mountain in Tanzania’s Gregory Rift, Lake Natron burns bright red, surrounded by the calcified remains of animals that were unfortunate enough to fall into the salty water. Bats, swallows and more are chemically preserved in the pose in which they perished; deposits of sodium carbonate in the water (a chemical once used in Egyptian mummification) seal the creatures in their watery tomb. The lake's landscape is surreal and deadly—and made even more bizarre by the fact that it's the place where nearly 75 percent of the world's lesser flamingos are born.
   The water is oversaturated with salt, can reach temperatures of 140 degrees and has a pH between 9 and 10.5—so corrosive that it can calcify those remains, strip ink off printed materials and burn the skin and eyes of unadapted animals. The unique color comes from cyanobacteria that photosynthesize into bright red and orange hues as the water evaporates and salinity rises; before that process occurs during the dry season, the lake is blue....

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