Lake Hillier is one of three pink lakes in Australia, of which Hillier and Hutt Lagoon are the most ornamental. This magical lake is located in the north of Middle Island, the largest island on the Recherche Archipelago (Bay of Isles) on the southern coast of Western Australia, about 130 kilometers from Esperance, and was discovered by British navigators in 1802.
Lake Hillier is a salty lake with a width of about 600 meters. The lake is shallow, covered with white salt, and surrounded by dark green eucalyptus and melaleuca forest, which isolate the deep blue sea in its northern part. When the lake water's salt content increases, the lake's algae bloom and produce carotene, which gives the lake its unique pink color.
People can't reach Lake Hillier via land due to the surrounding thick forest. You can choose to take a helicopter from Esperance to the island; the flight time is about 30 minutes. You will learn more interesting facts about Lake Hillier by reading this post.
Lake Hillier Introduction
The earliest record of a pink lake in Nakajima was in 1802. That year, British navigator, explorer, and hydrologist Matthew Flinders came here on his way to Sydney to survey the coastline. He named the lake after the recently deceased crewman William Hillier, who died of diarrhea while docked on the island. When the crew went ashore to investigate, they found the lake was as salty as the Dead Sea. In the early 1900s, Lake Hillier was used for salt mining for six years, but now it is only for tourist visits.
An early small lagoon with a sand bar developed. With the gradual development of the sand bar, the connection between the lagoon and the sea was finally cut off. The strong evaporation made the lagoon that lost the supply of seawater gradually salt and concentrates, forming this saltwater lake. Lake Hillier isn't always pink but varies from greenish to deep red depending on the salt content.
Lake Hillier Size
Lake Hillier is about 600 meters (2,000 feet) in length by about 250 meters (820 feet) in the largest width. The lake has a total surface area of 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres).
Reason For Its Pink Color
In 2015, a team of researchers from the Extreme Microbiome Project selected Lake Hillier for microbiome research. Dr. Ken McGrath's team from the Australian Genome Research Facility collected top and bottom lake water and sediment samples and successfully identified algae, archaea, bacteria, and viruses. The XMP project found that a red bacterium dominated the lake metagenomics map, while Dunaliella salina was relatively low. According to XMP's conclusion, the pink color of the lake water is mainly caused by the red bacteria, not algae, as previously thought.
It has a high level of salt content, but it is safe to swim in the lake because it is not a toxic substance. The only living organisms are microorganisms, including Dunaliella salina. These red algae cause the salt content in the lake to create a red dye which helps produce the color, as well as red halophilic bacteria, bacterioruberin, present in the salt crusts. No other living things are present in the lake. Helicopters and cruises are the only options to reach there.