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This Looks Like An Alien Phenomenon, But It’s Happening Right Here On Earth

There’s something pretty amazing happening to Lake Tuz in central Turkey. This hypersaline (that is, super-salty) lake is an ecological hotspot, and it’s currently experiencing a bloom of Dunaliella salinaalgae.

This algae turns the whitish water a deep crimson color. If we didn’t know any better, we’d assume that these surreal-looking photos were altered.

The white areas you see on the shoreline are salt deposits. Lake Tuz is the second largest lake in Turkey, and it’s one of the largest hypersaline bodies of water on Earth.

AKSARAY, TURKEY - JULY 16: A view from the "Salt Lake" in Aksaray, Turkey on July 16, 2015. Dunaliella salinas, a type of halophile micro-algae especially found in sea/lake salt fields, colorize a part of the lake this season of the year. (Photo by Murat Oner Tas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The normal color of the water lies just beyond this red bloom. The water is so salty that it’s naturally white in color.

AKSARAY, TURKEY - JULY 16: A view from the "Salt Lake" in Aksaray, Turkey on July 16, 2015. Dunaliella salinas, a type of halophile micro-algae especially found in sea/lake salt fields, colorize a part of the lake this season of the year. (Photo by Murat Oner Tas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

AKSARAY, TURKEY - JULY 16: A view from the "Salt Lake" in Aksaray, Turkey on July 16, 2015. Dunaliella salinas, a type of halophile micro-algae especially found in sea/lake salt fields, colorize a part of the lake this season of the year. (Photo by Murat Oner Tas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

These photos were taken on July 16, which marked the height of the bloom.

AKSARAY, TURKEY - JULY 16: A view from the "Salt Lake" in Aksaray, Turkey on July 16, 2015. Dunaliella salinas, a type of halophile micro-algae especially found in sea/lake salt fields, colorize a part of the lake this season of the year. (Photo by Murat Oner Tas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Lake Tuz is only a lake for half of the year. The water evaporates during the dry season, at which point the lake turns into a salt flat. During the rainy season, the water comes back, and the area becomes home to a number of wild birds, including flamingos, geese, and kestrels. In 2001, the lake was deemed a protected area.

The flamingos don’t mind the color at all. In fact, they eat this red algae, which contributes to their pink hue!

AKSARAY, TURKEY - JULY 16: Flamingos are seen at the "Salt Lake" in Aksaray, Turkey on July 16, 2015. Dunaliella salinas, a type of halophile micro-algae especially found in sea/lake salt fields, colorize a part of the lake this season of the year. (Photo by Murat Oner Tas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

AKSARAY, TURKEY - JULY 16: A view from the "Salt Lake" in Aksaray, Turkey on July 16, 2015. Dunaliella salinas, a type of halophile micro-algae especially found in sea/lake salt fields, colorize a part of the lake this season of the year. (Photo by Murat Oner Tas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

(via Mashable, Wikipedia)

A crimson lake might sound like something out of a horror movie, but all’s well at Lake Tuz. If anything, this natural wonder is pretty amazing, and it certainly makes the world a little more colorful!