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African StoriesLake Natron - The Red Tanzanian Lake That Can Turn Animals Into...

Lake Natron – The Red Tanzanian Lake That Can Turn Animals Into Stones

The red Tanzanian lake may appear beautiful and rosy in your eyes but it is one of the most mysterious and incredible places in Africa. However, Lake Natron can turn animals into stones.

Lake Natron is a salt lake that is alkaline and can be found in the Northern region of Arusha. It is close to the Kenyan border. The Tanzanian Lake doesn’t run off into any oceans or rivers. Instead, it soaks up and absorbs the regular salty desert rain. But, do you know what makes it tremendously dangerous that you wouldn’t want to take a dive, it is the lake’s closeness to the active volcano, Ol Doinyo Lengai.

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Lake Natron from an Aerial View

Ol Doinyo Lengai disposes of a rare kind of lava rich in Sodium (Na) and Potassium Carbonate (K2CO3), called Natrocarbonatite, or Natron for short. Thus, the coinage of the Lake’s name. Releasing into the water, this mix of sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate was key ingredients once used by Egyptians in mummification activities. They are a perfect mixture for preservation. The whole chemical composition is extremely alkaline, with pH levels of 10.5 close to matching ammonia (NH3).

A Dead Buffalo In Lake Natron
Lake Natron is red because of the bacteria that inhabit it, which makes its temperature very high. I guess the most overarching point of interest is the fact that the lake can turn animals into stone. This is not as a result of some magical enchantment or spells, it is due to the presence of salt and high alkalinity present in the water. Calcification occurs when an animal touches the water (the body becomes hardened). The animal dies yet appears like a stone. Every part of the body down to its hairs are still in place.
This tragic befall on the birds and animals would usually happen in the dry season when the water had receded. During the dry periods, the lake tends to be mirror-like and reflective, causing the curious animals to go right into it.
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Despite the place being a death trap for animals, Flamingos can perfectly survive. Flamingoes thrive in salty lakes because of their tough skin and scaly legs which prevent burns. Their system is designed for these harsh conditions.
Depending on the time of year, the water can be up to 60 degrees Celsius (140 Fahrenheit), which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns in five seconds or less. The place might be a hotspot for dead animals or static ones. However, Lake Natron has been an ideal tourist spot.

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