Located in northern Tanzania (Africa), Lake Natron is one of the famous lakes with magical beauty with bright red color. However, this place is even better known as the “Lake of Death”. The reason the lake has such a deadly name is that for thousands of years, any animals that stumble into the lake, their bodies are petrified in a short time, except flamingos.
A flamingo paradise
However, one bird species has managed to make Lake Natron its home without any trouble. More than 2.5 million endangered Lesser Flamingos breed here. Seventy-five percent of the world’s population are born on its shores.
The flamingos have to contend with no predators, and they feed on the algae and cyanobacteria. They filter out the salt through the glands in the head and can deal with the scalding waters. They normally keep to the cooler areas but can wade into the hot soup if they have to. Their skin is tough enough to prevent burns.
Why is it called the lake of death?
Because of the otherworldly environment sits in the wake of Ol Doinyo Lengai, the only volcano on the planet to belch out one of Earth’s weirdest lavas: Natrocarbonatite. Over time, the salty lake has absorbed sodium carbonate and other minerals in natrocarbonatite from the surrounding hills making the water a strong alkaline.
What would happen if you jumped into Lake Natron?
Flamingos have tough, scaly skin that protects them from the water, but humans are a little too soft and squishy to fare so well. First of all, there’s the heat with the water in Lake Natron sometimes reaching a scalding 60°C (140°F).
Then there are razor-sharp lumps of salt that almost trap humans in that caustic waters. The extreme saltiness of the lake wouldn’t turn you to stone like a glance from Medusa, but it would sting like hell if you had any cuts or breaks in the skin. Imagine what happens when you step into the salty ocean with a graze, it’d be like that but a lot worse.
Then you have that near-bleach alkalinity which too would get pretty burny the longer you lingered in the water. Depending on rainfall the exact pH changes but at its worst, you’d end up with corrosive burns.
What would happen if your body was submerged in Lake Natron?
Were you to drown or have your body chucked into Lake Natron, the water’s high salt content would stop the decomposition process meaning you’d be preserved like a pickle in brine.
Has anyone ever fallen into Lake Natron?
In 2007, a helicopter carrying a group of wildlife videographers wishing to get footage of the flamingos crashed into the lake. However while working, they encountered a problem. Everyone survived the crash but they were in the water unprotected. It burned their eyes and skin, but they managed to drag themselves ashore. Here, some local people helped them. If they spent any longer in the lake, they would have died.
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