UAE's pink lake on an island: How a teen discovered it

Ras Al Khaimah - The lake is about 100 metres off the sea coast.

Photos: Ammar Al Farsi.
Photos: Ammar Al Farsi.
Photos: Ammar Al Farsi.
Photos: Ammar Al Farsi.
Photos: Ammar Al Farsi.
Photos: Ammar Al Farsi.
Ammar Al Farsi.
Ammar Al Farsi.

Published: Tue 19 Jan 2021, 6:20 PM

Last updated: Tue 19 Jan 2021, 6:27 PM

When Ammar Al Farsi learnt from a friend that there was a pink lake in Ras Al Khaimah, he knew he had to check it out.

“I did not think twice. Armed with my camera and drone, I went to the lake alone, travelling about an hour and a half from my place,” said Al Farsi, a 19-year-old Emirati who studies medicine and lives in Sharjah.

The lake is around 100 metres off the sea coast, he said. It is situated on Saraya island in Al Rams area to the north of Ras Al Khaimah city.

It was mesmerising, he said, as he took out his camera and drone and took several snaps. “The lake appears naturally formed in a sort of cavity, extending over an area that is 40 metres long and 10 metres wide.”

Layers of salt were clearly seen beneath the pink water, he added.

When he posted his ‘pink lake’ photos on Twitter (@ammar_alfarsii) and Instagram (@ammar_alfarsi), he never thought they would go viral. Next thing he knew, his notification feed was abuzz with shares, likes, and comments from people he didn’t know.

“Some people did not believe it and thought I fabricated the images using Photoshop, but it really exists,” he said.

“I wished to take a sample of the water there but I didn’t do so because I didn’t what it was made of. It might be poisonous.”

Dr Saif Al Ghais, director-general of the Environment Protection and Development Authority, said the colour of the lake’s water could be attributed to the proliferation of red algae, “which are formed in groups that include over 4,000 species”.

However, at this point, it is not possible to say for sure that this is the reason behind the lake’s colour, he pointed out. “We need to take a sample from the lake water, and then analyse and study it in a scientific way to explain the colour change.”

Late in October 2019, fishermen in Ras Al Khaimah also reported some ‘red water’ nearly eight to 12 miles off the emirate’s coast.

“The red tide phenomenon appears twice a year and has no negative impact on the marine environment,” Dr Al Ghais said.

“The red tide, known as algae blooms, first appeared in the UAE regional waters in 2008, and the then Ministry of Environment and Water — now Ministry of Climate Change and Environment — warned against swimming, fishing, or collecting dead fish in affected areas.”

The so-called red tide detected was a kind of bacteria, he said. “They normally appear and reproduce at the same time every year, changing the colour of the water.”

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