LAKE NATRON is a salt and soda lake in
The lake is fed principally by the Southern Ewaso Ng\'iro River , which rises in central Kenya, and by mineral-rich hot springs. It is quite shallow, less than three metres (9.8 ft) deep, and varies in width depending on its water level. The lake is a maximum of 57 kilometres (35 mi) long and 22 kilometres (14 mi) wide. The surrounding area receives irregular seasonal rainfall, mainly between December and May totalling 800 millimetres (31 in) per year. Temperatures at the lake are frequently above 40 °C (104 °F).
High levels of evaporation have left behind natron (sodium carbonate
decahydrate) and trona (sodium sesquicarbonate dihydrate). The
alkalinity of the lake can reach a pH of greater than 12. The
surrounding bedrock is composed of alkaline, sodium-dominated trachyte
lavas that were laid down during the
* 1 Flora * 2 Fauna * 3 Threats and preservation * 4 Visiting the area * 5 See also * 6 References * 7 External links
The color of the lake is characteristic of those where very high evaporation rates occur. As water evaporates during the dry season, salinity levels increase to the point that salt-loving microorganisms begin to thrive. Such halophile organisms include some cyanobacteria that make their own food with photosynthesis as plants do. The red accessory photosynthesizing pigment in the cyanobacteria produces the deep reds of the open water of the lake and the orange colors of the shallow parts of the lake. The alkali salt crust on the surface of the lake is also often colored red or pink by the salt-loving microorganisms that live there.
Salt marshes and freshwater wetlands around the edges of the lake do support a variety of plants.
Most animals find the lake's high temperature (up to 60 °C) and its high and variable salt content inhospitable. Nonetheless, Lake Natron is home to some endemic algae , invertebrates , and birds . In the slightly less salty water around its margins, some fish can also survive.
The lake is the only regular breeding area in
The lake has inspired the poetic nature documentary The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos by Disneynature, for its close relationship with the lesser flamingoes as their only regular breeding area.
Two endemic fish species, the alkaline tilapias
THREATS AND PRESERVATION
The area around the salt lake is not inhabited but there is some
herding and some seasonal cultivation. Threats to the salinity balance
from increased siltation influxes will come from more projected
Natron watersheds and a planned hydroelectric power plant
on the Ewaso Ng'iro across the border in
A new threat to Lake Natron is the proposed development of a soda ash plant on its shores. The plant would pump water from the lake and extract the sodium carbonate to convert to washing powder for export. Accompanying the plant would be housing for over 1000 workers, and a coal-fired power station to provide energy for the plant complex. In addition, there is a possibility the developers may introduce a hybrid brine shrimp to increase the efficiency of extraction. Ol Doinyo Lengai seen from Lake Natron
According to Chris Magin, the RSPB\'s international officer for
Africa, "The chance of the lesser flamingoes continuing to breed in
the face of such mayhem are next to zero. This development will leave
lesser flamingoes in
As per communication on June 2008, Tata Chemicals shall not proceed with the Natron Project and further re-examination of this project will be subject to the Ramsar Wetlands plan, which is currently under preparation.
Because of its unique biodiversity,
VISITING THE AREA
There are a number of campgrounds near the lake, which is also the
base for climbing
Ol Doinyo Lengai
* ^ A B C D E F "Eastern Africa: Northern Tanzania, on the border with Kenya". World Wildlife Fund. * ^ "Lake Natron Basin". * ^ "Alkaline Environments", authored by W. D. Grant and B. E. Jones, in Encyclopedia of Microbiology, editor-in-chief Joshua S. Lederberg, Academic Press, 2010, page 129, accessed 24 November 2014 * ^ Billock, Jennifer (14 June 2016). "The Deadly Lake Where 75 Percent of the World\'s Lesser Flamingoes Are Born". Smithsonian . Retrieved 17 June 2016. * ^ "Position Statement on the Lake Natron Project" (PDF). Tata Chemicals. 2008-06-13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-05. Retrieved 2013-10-07.