One large segment of Charles Fort’s anomalous phenomena collection involved strange occurrences in nature – rainfall of fish, small animals or unusual objects; strange noises; out-of-place animals; mass animal or bird deaths; bodies of water changing color. These are less popular among Forteans than UFOs, aliens and ghosts because many can eventually be explained by non-paranormal events. That’s often the case with bodies of water changing colors and brings us to a report from Australia this week of a creek in Melbourne turning bright pink. While this might be explained by non-Forteans as pollution, the unusual color and the fact that it occurs often around the world should entice Forteans to take a closer look. So … we will.
“It looked quite thick and so bright, almost like some kind of soap - but not. It was weird.”
Local media outlets like The Age found plenty of witnesses (with photographs - see them here) who were baffled by the overnight pink-ification of Edgars Creek in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg North, while Victoria’s Environmental Protection Authority officials called it “strange” and had no explanation. Another witness described it as a “plastic sheet” and saw it coming from a drain, which the EPA said it would investigate … as it should since the 17km-long creek runs through multiple suburbs and is home to a number of native bird species. Unfortunately, the area is also home to a number of industrial warehouses, so the EPA warned residents to avoid the pink creek until further notice.
Could the cause of the pink Edgars Creek be something else? Yes, say other Australians who are familiar with Lake Hillier -- a saline lake on Middle Island, the largest island of the Recherche Archipelago off the south coast of Western Australia. Lake Hillier is permanently pink due to Dunaliella salina – a micro-algae that is the only organism of any kind living in the lake.
“Yes!” say those living near Melbourne's Westgate Park, which has a deep salt lake that turns pink when temperatures and salt levels are higher than normal due to an algae that produces beta carotene, a reddish pigment that wildlife officials say is not harmful to birds but advises people to stay away. This is a manmade lake which makes it tough to decide who or what to blame. It turns out both Victoria and Western Australia have other lakes that occasionally turn pink, so perhaps the people worried about Edgars Creek should chill out.
“Agreed!” say those who live near Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada – home of Cameron Falls, which turns pink every spring after heavy rains. The ancient falls run through an area saturated with argolite – a fine-grained sedimentary rock high in aluminium and silica which turns the water a pinkish-red when light is reflected off of it after rain and falling water churns it up.
“Ditto!” say residents Costa Blanca, Spain, whose Las Salinas de Torrevieja is described as a strawberry milkshake from above and a salty pink spa bath from the shore due to its combination of Dunaliella salina and Halobacterium (salt bacterium). This one has shrimp in it as well which pink flamingos feast on.
“Wait a minute!” say scientists in Antarctica, Greenland and other areas where pink snow may not cause pink lakes or rivers but it can cause serious problems. Pink or watermelon or blood snow is caused by Chlamydomonas nivalis, an algae that grows on melting snow. It’s growing faster because of climate change and, because the pink color causes the snow to melt even faster, is a cause of glacier melting. That’s not a good thing no matter how pretty it looks.
One thing we haven’t mentioned yet is pollution, which – despite Edgars Creek being in the pink lake wonderland of Australia – is probably the cause of its overnight pinko-fluorescence. Don’t drink it, float in it, let your dog swim in it or anything else until the EPA gives an OK.
Even Charles Fort would agree with that.