Pink Lake | Torrevieja, Spain - Atlas Obscura

The Pink Lake of Torrevieja

Torrevieja, Spain

Bacteria and algae give the salty water its bubblegum hue. 


Two colorful salt lakes flank the northwestern edge of a small seaside city on Spain’s Costa Blanca. Together, they form a nature reserve called Las Salinas de Torrevieja. One lake in particular stands out, as its eye-catching bubblegum pink color overshadows its green-tinted neighbor.

When looking at Torrevieja from above, it looks as though a colossal strawberry milkshake melted and the gooey mess pooled just outside the city. But the odd sight isn’t caused by a slew of unnatural ingredients. It’s actually the work of bacteria and algae.

Halobacterium (also known as “salt bacterium”) thrive in salty places, as does a micro-algae called Dunaliella salina. These are the two magic ingredients that concoct the lake’s bizarre hue. Despite its funky color, the water is perfectly fine, though it can get a bit smelly.

Torrevieja relies on its salt lakes. People have been collecting the mineral from the waters for centuries. In the early 19th century, they officially became a hub for Spain’s salt industry. In addition to boosting the city’s economy, the lakes also act like a natural spa. Supposedly, the sludge of mud and salt at the bottom have healing properties than can relieve common skin and respiratory ailments. The water’s high salt concentration makes it a fun place to relax and enjoy floating around with ease.

Flamingos, much like the local people, also frequent the pink lake. Feasting upon the algae-filled shrimp that live there gives their feathers a rosy tint that almost matches the water.

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