Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Turn To Stone (on Lake Natron)

Lake Natron, in northern Tanzania, is an alkaline lake whose water has the pH of household ammonia. The water temperature can reach well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and supports only those species which are evolved enough to handle such a deadly environment. If there was ever a little slice of Hell on Earth, Lake Natron would be a contender.

A calcified African fish eagle Haliaeetus vocifer perches
above deadly Lake Natron. Photograph by Nick Brandt.

The water is so deadly to those not used to it that anything that merely touches it is calcified. Photographer Nick Brandt captured several spectacular shots of several calcified creatures who fell victim to the illusion of a crystalline, placid lake, only to emerge from the water and become preserved in stone.

A whydah Vidula sp.

When islands form on the caustic lake, they attract scores of both lesser and greater flamingos. The flamingos take advantage of the disappearing islands, constructing their mud-tower nests and breeding, all the while feeding on invertebrates in the more saline areas of the lake. However, like bathers on a shark-infested beach, even these seasonal visitors sometimes fall victim to the deadly water.

Even seasonal visitors, such as this lesser flamingo Phoenicopterus minor, still fall victim to the caustic water. Photograph by Nick Brandt.

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