In the northernmost region of Tanzania, there is a saline lake which is known as Lake Natron. This lake is fed by Southern Ewaso Ng’iro river. Its name is given natron, which means a naturally occurring compound made of sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate. Its 9.8 ft. deep and the width varies according to the water level. The temperature of the lake is certainly over 40 degree celsius. The lake is so alkaline that it can reach a pH of greater than 12. So now, why it is called the lake of gravestones. It is because of its high alkalinity which turns any animals, fish into stones when immersed fully. The salinity of the lake depends upon the amount of evaporation in the dry season. When the water evaporates, the salinity level increases to such a point that even salt loving microorganisms begin to thrive. Despite of the inhospitality of the lake, some of the endemic algae, invertebrates and birds find the lake a living option.
Most of the flamingos come here to feed on a blue green algae with red pigments called Spirulina. Due to its caustic environment, this lake is a safe breeding location as it creates a barrier against its predators trying to reach their nests. Some believe that the death of this numerous animals is due to the reflective nature of lake which confuses the animals and causes them to crash. The development of soda ash plants on the shore is a new threat to the lake. Well the lake is also used for some herding and some cultivation. Alcolapia alcalica are species of fish which can survive in the highly alkaline lake. Commonly the color of the lake is red, due to the photosynthesizing pigment of the cyanobacteria. There are only some parts where the color of the water is natural. Well if the salinity of the lake decreases, the amount of cyanobacteria will also decrease causing the loss of habitat of endangered flamingos. Currently there is a worldwide campaign going on by the environmental institutions to stop the construction of the soda ash factory by TATA chemicals Ltd. Of Mumbai. For tourism, it’s a great place to visit as there are many campgrounds near the lake.