There’s nothing quite like the feeling of cannonballing into a beautiful body of water during a hot summer day, but after taking a close look at these lakes, you’re going to want to check twice before making that dive. These gorgeous but deadly lakes are the true meaning of “look, don’t touch.”
This lake in Tanzania is considered one Africa’s most beautiful and serene bodies of water, but for the animals that wander too close to it, the lake is a horror show. Anything that makes the deadly mistake of drinking from Lake Natron is turned to stone.
The bizarre phenomena is a result of Lake Natron’s incredibly high alkaline content. The lake is so caustic that it literally burns the animals who get too close to it, blinding them and filling their nasal cavities with poison. What’s left of the animal is a black, hardened shell.
The Blue Lagoon
Known for its otherworldly blue glow, this former quarry in Buxton, Derbyshire draws masses of people to its bright waters every year, despite signs explicitly warning swimmers to stay clear of its toxic waters. In fact, taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon is more toxic than going for a swim in a pond made of bleach.
The water’s striking blue color is caused by the limestone rocks surrounding the quarry. The limestone leaches calcite crystals into the water, turning it’s color a bright turquoise, even despite the amount of garbage, sewage, and rotting animal carcasses regularly dumped into its waters.
Even though the “lagoon” boasts acidity levels of pH 11.3, just less than ammonia at 11.5pH and bleach at 12.6pH, entire families still opt to spend warm days in the water, risking kidney problems, fungal infections, rashes, and even blindness. The quarry is so toxic the government won’t allow the water to be drained for fear of pollution, but can’t impose any other restrictions because it resides on private land.
A new study by the National Wildlife Federation and the San Francisco-based Resource Media recently pointed out that an unassuming lake near Santa Cruz, California has the highest levels of toxic algae in the state, and some of the highest in the country. Every summer, Pinto Lake is the scene of massive amount of cyanobacteria blamed for loads of otter deaths and liver or kidney damage in humans.
“It is probably one of the most surreal sights I’ve seen,” said Robert Ketley, a senior utilities engineer for the city of Watsonville told local news. “When we have a really significant bloom, the lake looks like automobile anti-freeze with chunks of steamed broccoli floating in it. You then add to that, depending upon what species of cyanobacteria is blooming, a smell that is either like gym bag or manure.”
This former copper mine just outside of Butte, Montana closed in 1982 and has been a growing concern for nearby towns, as the toxic acid it contains is regularly rising in the pit and set to leak into the water supply by 2020.
It wasn’t until close to 400 geese died horribly after making the unfortunate choice of resting on the lake during a migration, that it was discovered the acidic water would quite literally eat away the intestines of anything unfortunate enough to drink from it.
The land owners of the Berkeley Pit have capitalized on the curiosity of locals by turning the toxic lake into a tourist destination, complete with a gift shop.