Wednesday, April 3, 2013

So I Did the Research

I was hopping around the web today, and I came across the article "28 Incredibly Beautiful Places You Won't Believe Actually Exist."  There are really some amazing pictures here, but there was very little actual information about the places. You really should pop over there and look at the pictures --  after you finish reading my blog, of course.

I was mildly curious  about some of the spots until I came across this picture:
Original Source: World for Travel

I looked at these boats floating in a sea of Pepto-Bismol and was immediately curious to know more. Sadly, the article only included the information that this is Lake Retba, Sengal.  Very little information indeed!

So I immediately decided it was time to do some research, and because I love you, I'm sharing what I learned so that you don't have to leave this page to find more information. You're welcome.

My first big question was, "Where in the world is Sengal, and why have I never heard of it?" I discovered that I had never heard of it because it's supposed to be "Senegal" which I have heard of! Senegal is a small African nation located about exactly where that green mark is:
Source: CIA Factbook

I learned quite a bit while researching this. At first I thought I had read two possible explanations for the color of the water. One theory was that it was due to a pink-colored algae in the water. The other explanation was that it was caused by a bacteria (cyanobacteria). However, when I looked up cyanobacteria , I read that it was actually a form of algae. Who knew?

BUT WAIT!! Further research showed that while cyanobacteria is often called blue-green algae, it's not really an algae at all! I hope you're all as thoroughly confused as I was. I was so confused that for a moment I actually considered calling my ex-husband the biology major. Fortunately, I got hold of myself and did what any intelligent, college-educated person would do. I found a page for kids:

There in language easy enough for a child to understand, DOGONews declares that the pink color is caused by an algae known as Dunaliella Salina. That's good enough for me.

 In either case, it appears to have no ill effects on humans or wildlife.
The salt content of the water is quite high (which makes people buoyant), and harvesting the salt is a major source of income for the local inhabitants.
So to sum up: lots of salt and algae but no bacteria. Good for floating.

This whole event reminds me of the good old pre-Google days when we had to depend on The World Book Encyclopedia if we wanted to know anything. Every time one of the kids would ask me a question I didn't know the answer to, I made them go get the encyclopedia, and we looked it up. This drove them crazy.
Boy studying
One of my children regretting that he had asked, "What makes airplanes fly?"

In the spirit of payback,  my daughter does the same thing to her children, except Google is somehow involved, which I think takes half the fun out of it. 

How did you find information before Google? How do you answer the questions your children ask today?

As it turns out, by the way, there is another pink lake in Australia. That however, will have to wait for another blog post.