Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »

Kerch, Ukraine

Koyashskoe Salt Lake

The saltiest lake in all of Crimea is also the pinkest of the pink and teeming with life. 

Lake Koyashskoe is an anomaly in the sense that the drier it gets, the more beautiful it becomes. 

This is because as the water evaporates and the salt content rises, the microscopic algae and brine shrimp that gives this lake its ever-darkening pink hue flourishes and concentrates. The water level drops, and salt crystals sparkling like diamonds encrust rocks that jut out from the water. Measuring at about 350 grams of salt per liter, Lake Koyashskoe is the most saline body of water in Crimea (a territory which is now occupied by Russia, but is still claimed by Ukraine). Located in the Opukske Nature Reserve, the lake creates a martian landscape on the Kerch Peninsula, and is separated from the Black sea by only a small strip of land. Against the sea’s cerulean waters and white shores, the crustacean pink really pops in contrast.

Not nearly as treacherous as the torrid Lake Natron or as deep as the salt-rich Lake Retba, Lake Koyashskoe is small for a majestically pink salt lake. Regularly only about three feet deep, the water stretches across a silt bed about four and a half miles long and a little over a mile wide. The silt below the lake is said to have some serious medicinal properties, and the locals have long collected it as well as farmed salt from the water’s edge. Like its salty associates, it’s uninhabitable for most plants and creatures, with an exception for brine shrimp and the algae that give the water its pink to scarlet glow.