Lake Retba: The Pink Lake

Lake Retba  also called Lac Rose(meaning Pink Lake) is an unusual lake that can hardly escape the unsuspecting visitor’s eye  because of its unique and incredible pink colour. It is a true natural phenomenon that lies north of the Cap Vert peninsula of Senegal, about 30km northeast of the capital Darker in northwest Africa. It covers an area of about three square kilometer.
It is about an hour away from the capital city of Senegal.


The  lake derives its name from its unique and and unusual pink colour with the pink intensity deepening towards the dry season(November-June) and waning  during the rainy season(July-October).
This unique pink colour is derived from the biological activity of a plant like organism(micro algae) called  Dunaliella Salina algae that produces a red pigment. This organism is attracted by the lakes very high salt content.

The lake also has a high salt content, about 40% in some areas. This probably due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean from which it is only separated by a narrow corridor of dunes. There is usually an in flow if sea water from the Atlantic ocean into Lake Retba with its subsequent evaporation. Its salinity content compares to that of the Dead Sea and during the dry season, it exceeds it.

The Lake has become a blessing to its locals in that it’s not just a tourist destination, it also provides a huge deposit of salt for over 3000 salt collectors comprising men and women from all over Africa, who now earn a living by harvesting and exporting salt across the region.

Nature been so kind, fish in the lake have developed a survival mechanism to help adapt to its high salt content by evolving ways to pump out extra salt and keep their water level balanced. However the fish are approximately four times smaller than those living in a normal environment, as a result of salt water fish dwarfism.

Written by: Samuel Agboma

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