Kazakhstan’s Lake Kobeytuz is one of the few lakes in the world with pink waters.
The lake gets its pink colour from the presence of algae called Dunaliella Salina.
“This lake began to turn pink two years ago,” explains Battal Ibrayev, deputy head of local government of Ereymentau District of Akmola Region.
The lake turns pink every several years, before that it is grey.
“Specialists and experts say microorganisms and algae invaded which gave a pink tint to the salt, and since then our Lake Kobeytuz has become famous in Kazakhstan.”
It has become somewhat of a local attraction, located to the east of Kazakhstan’s capital Nur Sultan. But it became even more popular in June and July this year, following social media rumours that the salt from the lake helps fight coronavirus.
“The lake now, as you can see, has suffered enormous damage. The ecosystem of the Lake Kobeytuz and Teniz, which is located nearby, is so fragile, these are such fragile ecological systems, biological and biochemical structures. It is so unique and fragile that in June and July when people came in large numbers it caused damage to the lakes. According to experts, at the moment it will take 10-15 years for these wounds to heal,” explains Ibrayev.
Officials say people have been digging up mud and salts with their hands or shovels.
A number have even started to sell Kobeytuz salt online.
“For some reason, people believe that this mud is curative and protects against COVID, as well as, the salt also protects against COVID. Although there is no expert or data analysis about this. It was exported and according to the information we have even sales have begun, under the pretext that the salt and mud of Lake Kobeytuz can protect you and help you recover from COVID-19,” he adds.
A resident of Nur-Sultan, Aliya Kosanova, bought some Lake Kobeytuz mud online for herself.
“They (those who sold mud and salt of the lake) drove every weekend to dig up salt. We didn’t know at all that it was not approved. If we knew, we certainly would not do it. But we didn’t think about it and did it only out of good intentions.”
Doctor Tolkyn Bataeva from Medical Center ‘Medicare’ explains:
“If you take Kobeytuz, firstly, it is not cleaned, and secondly, you do not know how it was collected, where it was taken, how it was stored. Here there is a risk, on the contrary, of contracting some kind of bacterial infection, because you are rinsing your mouth with it and this can bring harm, not benefit.”
To prevent further damaging of the ecosystem Kazakh authorities closed the entrance to the lake from July 24.