Mystery behind Ras Al Khaimah's pink lake solved

Pollution did not cause Saraya Island shoreline pool to turn pink, experts say

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The mystery had everyone scratching their heads and asking: "Why is the lake pink?"

This week, photos emerged on social media of a pink lake in Ras Al Khaimah and quickly caught the attention of residents across the UAE.

Now scientists have an answer for the natural oddity.

Environmental experts analysed samples from the small pool to find what turned the water pink.

Dr Saif Al Ghais, director general of the Environment Protection and Development Authority in Ras Al Khaimah, told the The National red algae caused the water discolouration.

He said the salinity levels were extremely high too, almost four times that of seawater.

Drone images of the unusually fluorescent mini lake were first shared on social media by student Ammar Al Farsi.

Located just a stone's throw from the shoreline at Al Rams beach on Saraya Islands, the water appeared bright pink against the beige sands.

“We took samples from the lake [on Wednesday] and received the results this morning,” Dr Al Ghais said.

"The salinity of the water measures 208, while seawater levels usually sit between 38 and 39.

"It is very saline water which is why the algae is growing in it and feeding off the nutrients."

This has not happened as a result of pollution or an oil spill, it is a natural phenomenon.

He said they were still uncertain as to the exact species of algae because there are more than 4,000 in existence.

Before the laboratory results were concluded, Dr Al Ghais said the colour change was probably related to red algae, which is a bloom of algae that usually occurs in coastal areas when there is magnesium in the water.

In this latest discovery, the salt-heavy waterbed formed as a result of evaporation, which is often recorded in areas of low and high tides, called sabkhas.

A term typically used by Earth scientists, a sabkha is a coastal sandflat in which saline minerals accumulate as the result of the arid climate.

“In most cases, the bloom stays for only a short period of time until it consumes all the nutrients from the water then starts to die off," Dr Al Ghais said.

"When we visited yesterday you could see a change in the water colour, which shows it is already dying off.

"This kind of marine growth is typically recorded once a year in areas like Al Rams.

"This has not happened as a result of pollution or an oil spill, it is a natural phenomenon."

Any time the authority is alerted to something like this, he said, they immediately dispatch a team to the site to test the water and surrounding environment.

Such formations have been recorded in the lakes in the Al Muzahmi protected area before.

On Wednesday, The National visited the site at Al Rams beach, which was about 20 metres wide and 50 metres long.

Local resident Mohammed Ahmed, 21, said since the image of the lake went viral, many people had visited the beach.

“This collection of water has been here for a long time but I never thought to take a picture and share it on social media,” he said.

“If you get down close to the water you can see a layer of sea salt under the pink-looking water.

“I don’t know what caused the colour change, some say algae, some say pollution maybe, but as someone who lives near by it will be good to know the results, because I visit the beach a lot.”