Green waters of Maharashtra's Lonar lake turn pink, experts blame salinity and presence of algae; see pics here

Experts say this is not the first time that the colour change has happened in Lonar lake, but this time it is more glaring.

FP Trending June 11, 2020 14:27:46 IST
Green waters of Maharashtra's Lonar lake turn pink, experts blame salinity and presence of algae; see pics here

Locals have been left baffled after the colour of water in Maharashtra's Lonar lake, formed after a meteorite hit the Earth some 50,000 years ago, has turned pink.

Experts have attributing the change to the salinity and presence of algae in the water body.

The Maharashtra tourism Twitter account put up pictures on social media:

 IAS Suman Rawat Chandra, the district collector of Maharashtra’s Buldhana, also took to the micro-blogging site to share pictures of the lake.

According to Deccan Herald, Lonar Lake, which is in the Buldhana district of Maharashtra, was first discovered by JE Alexander in 1823. The 77.69 hectare lake area is part of the Lonar sanctuary spanning 3.66 square km. It is nearly 500 kilometres from Mumbai.

The lake, which finds mention in Skanda Puran, Padma Puran and Aaina-e-Akbari, is the world's third-largest crater formed due to a meteorite strike.

It is a saline lake which was formed more than 50,000 years ago after a two million-tonne crater impacted the Earth to create a depression, 1.83 km in diameter and 150 mt deep.

Of late, the change in colour of water of the lake, having a mean diameter of 1.2 km, has not only surprised locals, but also nature enthusiasts and scientists.

Experts say this is not the first time that the colour change has happened, but this time it is more glaring.

The lake, which is a notified national geo-heritage monument, has saline water with pH of 10.5, Gajanan Kharat, member of the Lonar lake conservation and development committee, told PTI.

"There are algae in the water body. The salinity and algae can be responsible for this change," he said. "There is no oxygen below one meter of the lake''s water surface. There is an example of a lake in Iran, where water becomes reddish due to increase in salinity," he noted.

Kharat said the level of water in the Lonar lake is currently low as compared to the few past years and there is no rain to pour fresh water in it. "The low level of water may lead to increased salinity and change in the behaviour of algae because of atmospheric changes...this may be the reason for colour change. This is not the first time that the colour of water has changed," he said.

Minerals present in the lake’s soil are very similar to those found in rocks brought back from the moon during Apollo Programme, Deccan Herald reported quoting a study by IIT Bombay.

A similar phenomenon takes place in Umria lake in Iran, said APCCF & Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) field director MS Reddy. He said that scientists studying such phenomenon have revealed that water level in summer goes down, increasing the salinity. This condition offers breeding ground to Dunaliella algae.

"Sudden change in colour of water is strange. It might be because of microbial activities or human interference. Research should be conducted before making any comments,” said Harish Malpani, head, department of microbiology, RLT College of Science, Akola.

According to Hindustan Times, some locals had informed the forest department about the change in colour of lake last year, but the hue at that time was not as dense as it is now.

Dr Madan Suryavanshi, head of the geography department of Aurangabad's Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, said looking at the scale of this colour change, "this cant be a human intervention". "In case of a natural phenomenon, there are fungi which generally give a greenish colour to water most of the times. This (the current colour change) seems to be a biological change in the Lonar crater," he said.

During the lockdown phase, there may not have been any disturbance to water which led to this change, he said. "Season-wise changes occur in water and this might be case with the Lonar lake. We can examine the change if we go there in a week...then we can say more about the change," he said.

With inputs from PTI

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