Lake in Turkey turns blood red

A lake in central Turkey called Tuz Golu turns bright red during the hot summer season, and it's not because of some biblical plague.

Danny Gallagher
CNET freelancer Danny Gallagher has contributed to Cracked.com, Mental Floss, Maxim, Break.com, Mandatory, Jackbox Games, Geeks Who Drink and many, many other publications in his never-ending quest to bring the world's productivity to a screeching halt. He lives and works in Dallas. Email Danny.
Danny Gallagher
2 min read

Part of Tuz Golu, also known as the "Salt Lake" in Aksaray, Turkey, turns bright red due to a higher population of algae and not some kind of evil curse. Murat Oner Tas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Imagine that you're heading out to the beach on a beautiful summer day. The sun is shining. The sand feels warm and inviting on your bare feet. The water is as red as the blood in your veins.

If you find yourself in such a setting, don't panic. The apocalypse isn't coming to fruition. You're probably just vacationing in Aksaray, Turkey, where the country's second-largest lake, Tuz Golu, also known by the locals as "Salt Lake," turns bright red due to an interesting anomaly that occurs every summer.

Christopher Gobler, a marine ecology research professor for Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences in Stony Brook, New York, told ABC News that a species of algae called Dunaliella salinas is responsible for the lake's ruddy color.

Gobler says that when a sizable amount of the water is sucked out of the lake due to evaporation, it raises the salt level and kills off a large portion of the plankton that eat the color-changing algae in the lake. The algae's population grows and causes the water to change to its bright red color. These algae are also responsible for putting the "pink" in the pink flamingos in the lake.

The lake will retain its strange color until all of the water evaporates sometime in August, leaving behind a dry salt pan. The lake will then fill up with water again during the winter, according to ABC's report.

Tuz Golu isn't the only body of water in the world with an unusual color, according to a gallery of photos compiled by Conde Nast Traveler. Laguna Colorada in Uyuni, Bolivia, has a lake that turns red in the summer in a similar cycle to Tuz Golu. Lake Hillier located in western Australia has waters that are bright pink. Yellowstone National Park's Grand Prismatic Spring in Wyoming has bacteria in it that turn the water into a rainbow of different colors.

The lake dries up during the warmer months, creating a salt flat that tourists can actually walk across until the water comes back in the winter. Getty Images/Cultura RM