10 Lakes that Have Changed Color Unbelievably Over Time | LakeWizard

Key Takeaways

  • Lakes can exhibit dramatic color changes due to various factors
  • Changes may indicate ecological or geological shifts
  • Some U.S. lakes provide unique insights into environmental complexity

Have you ever witnessed a lake change its wardrobe of colors?

Imagine the startling transformation, akin to a chameleon's, but on a grand natural canvas.

It's not just a twist in fiction; lakes around the world mystify with their ever-shifting hues.

Unbelievably, these aquatic marvels aren't subject to mere seasonal wardrobe changes; over time, they undergo complete color revolutions.

Each lake tells its own tale, one of ecological turns, geological shifts, or even human influence.

These color-changing bodies of water offer a unique window into the complexity of our environment.

From the United States to the far reaches of New Zealand, their stories of transformation are as varied as they are fascinating, ensuring that you'll never look at a tranquil body of water the same way again.

Table of contents


Great Salt Lake (Utah)

Have you ever seen a lake with a split personality?

Well, Great Salt Lake in Utah is kind of like that!

It's a fascinating body of water that doesn't stick to just one outfit; it loves to change colors, from deep blues to vibrant pinks and reds.

Did you know that the Great Salt Lake is actually two lakes in one?

Thanks to a railroad causeway built in 1959, this lake displays two distinct colors.

The North and South parts of the lake are like twins with very different tastes in algae fashion.

The northern arm proudly wears a pinkish-red hue due to Dunaliella Salina algae, thriving in its extra-salty water.

On the southern side, a blue-green palette is favored by cyanobacteria.

Talk about natural art!

Here’s a quick dip into its stats:

  • Size: Covers around 2,300 square miles
  • Water volume: Once contained 30 million acre-feet (That's 9.7 trillion gallons!)
  • Algae: The color-changing wizards
  • Causeway: The dividing accessory built in 1959

So, what makes these algae so special?

They are not just about good looks.

They support an entire ecosystem, playing host to flies, brine shrimp, and millions of birds that pit-stop here during their migrations.

Why such a dramatic difference, you ask?

It’s all down to the salt!

Different salt concentrations on either side of the causeway decide what algae can set up shop there.

It's a delicate balance that Mother Nature has mastered over the years.

Remember, though it loves to show off different colors, the lake is drying up.

Its levels have dropped alarmingly, making these color changes a beautiful yet poignant reminder of nature's fragility.

So, if you get a chance, go see this natural kaleidoscope while it's still strutting its stuff!

Lake Erie (Ohio/Pennsylvania/New York/Michigan)

Have you ever seen Lake Erie transform in color?

It's like watching a magic show – except this trick isn’t always so enchanting.

Let me tell you, Lake Erie's chameleon-like antics, often shifting to a vibrant green, are caused by algal blooms.

You've got it, blooms that are less 'flower power' and more 'pow-wow of the algae'.

These blooms can give the lake an almost surreal, neon hue.

But the reason behind this is no secret; it’s agricultural runoff and other pollutants that are the main culprits.

It’s a classic case of too much of a good thing – nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus are like an all-you-can-eat buffet for algae.

Did you know?

Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes, which makes it a prime spot for these aquatic plant parties.

The blooms are not just an aesthetic issue, they can affect water quality and local wildlife too.

But hey, at least it’s not boring, right?

Let's break it down:

  • Algal Blooms: Often give Lake Erie a greenish tint.
  • Causes: Nutrient pollution mainly from agricultural runoff.
  • Issues: Affects water quality and can harm wildlife.

And consider this: while you may not have an agricultural runoff spigot at your fingertips, your awareness is the first step to a ripple effect of change.

Lake Erie might just need a helping hand from all of us to keep its many colors beautiful and safe.

Do you think we can turn the tide for this colorful giant?

Mono Lake (California)

Hey you!

Ever caught a glimpse of Mono Lake's colors changing like a mood ring?

Well, you're about to discover why that happens.

Imagine a lake that's been around for at least 760,000 years and with no outlet.

That's Mono Lake for you, a genuine California old-timer!

This saline soda lake has a bit of a magic trick up its sleeve; it changes colors!

You might be asking, "How does that happen?" The answer lies in its unique chemistry because Mono Lake isn't your average lake:

  • High Salinity: The water is super salty because it doesn't flow out to any river or ocean.
  • Alkalinity: Alkaline conditions come from the minerals in the surrounding rocks.
  • Algae: Tiny algae, these minuscule magicians, paint the lake with their greenish tints.

Seasons come and go, and with them, Mono Lake takes on new shades.

In summer, it's a canvas with splashes of color, and in winter, it becomes a serene scene straight out of a snow globe.

Did you know this ancient lake is also a hotspot for brine shrimp and migratory birds?

Yep, that's a sign of a thriving ecosystem despite the high salt content.

Pretty cool, right?

So next time you're road-tripping through California, why not stop by Mono Lake?

You're in for a spectacular showcase of nature's lively palette—and it's all thanks to over a million years of history and a dash of algae wizardry!

Lake Okeechobee (Florida)

Ever wondered why Florida's largest lake, Lake Okeechobee, isn't sporting that classic crystal-blue hue?

Well, you're not alone!

What used to be a blue gem has turned a bit murky green and brown over the years.

But why, you ask?

It's all down to nutrient pollution, stirring up algal blooms that would make any lake a little green around the gills!

So, let's dive into some numbers.

Lake Okeechobee spans a massive 730 square miles.

That's no small pond!

Originally, the lake was even larger, with a historical footprint of about 1,947 km².

Depth-wise, it’s quite the shallow water, averaging only 2.7 meters deep.

This makes it particularly sensitive to changes in water quality.

Here's the deal: algal blooms, fed by excess nutrients, are notorious party-crashers.

They don't just change the color, they can deplete oxygen levels, affecting fish and other wildlife that call Lake Okeechobee home.

It's a challenging situation, and it's been transforming the lake unbelievably over time.

Did you know a 1928 hurricane rampaged through this area and tragically caused the dike to break?

This caused extensive flooding and loss of life.

Meanwhile, the lake's health kept on changing as the region developed and agricultural run-off increased.

Now, as you're picturing this vast body of water, keep in mind it's a crucial part of Florida's ecosystem.

It's not only about aesthetics; this change in color is a marker of the lake's health and the well-being of the surrounding environment.

So next time you hear about Lake Okeechobee, spare a thought for its current tint and remember the tale it tells about our impact on nature.

Salton Sea (California)

Have you ever witnessed a lake change its wardrobe?

The Salton Sea, California's largest lake, sure has undergone quite the transformation!

What once was a glistening blue has now turned into shades of murky brown, and on some occasions, it has even donned a red tint.

But why the fashion switch?

Well, it's mostly due to increasing salinity, some unwelcome pollution, and nature's own color palette—algal blooms.

Here's a little heads-up on the stats: This lake covers about 340 square miles—that's no small pond!

And here's a fun historical tidbit for you: the Salton Sea was created by accident in 1905.

Yes, by accident!

Water from the Colorado River burst through a poorly-built irrigation canal and flooded the desert basin, resulting in this expansive body of water.

Now, think about this: Color changes in a lake aren't just about aesthetics; they're environmental red flags.

The Salton Sea's increasing salinity levels have been a cause for concern for years.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but when a lake gets saltier, the ecosystem can get a little out of whack.

Imagine the colorful sight of birds flocking around the water's edge.

These days, though, maybe not as much.

In fact, the future of this lake is as uncertain as its color palette.

So, the next time you're in California, will you stop by this colorful character of a lake?

Just remember, behind those murky and sometimes boldly red waters, there's a signal—the Salton Sea is pointing out the pressing issues of water management and ecological health.

Let's hope we can turn the tide on this one!

Lake Michigan (Michigan/Illinois/Indiana/Wisconsin)

Have you heard about the times Lake Michigan donned a wardrobe of strange colors?

It's like the lake decided to try on some new hues!

While typically known for its striking blue waters, this Great Lake can occasionally sport shades of green and brown.

This isn't the lake trying to keep up with the latest trends, though; it’s due to algal blooms and sediment runoff—natural phenomena that can alter the appearance of the water dramatically.

Imagine the lake as a massive mood ring, reflecting the conditions of its surroundings.

Sediment runoff, especially after heavy rains, can sweep into the waters, giving the lake a murky, brown appearance.

Not exactly the best look, right?

On the other hand, the growth of algae can create vast green swathes.

You might find it interesting that algae aren't just looking for their moment in the spotlight—these blooms are often indicators of underlying environmental conditions that might need some attention.

Quick Facts About Lake Michigan:

  • Size: Approximately 22,400 square miles
  • Shoreline: Roughly 1,600 miles long, including islands
  • Depth: An average of 279 feet with a maximum depth of about 923 feet

Now, do you know how big this lake really is?

To drive around it would take you about 1,100 miles without pit stops.

It's not just a simple afternoon cruise, huh?

And it's not a solo act either; Lake Michigan is part of a larger group—the Great Lakes Circle Tour, thought up in 1985.

If you're up for exploring, know that Lake Michigan isn't just about vast waters but also offers incredible coastlines dotted with beaches and trails.

Places like North Beach in Racine, Wisconsin, beckon with soft sand and sunny vibes, while the Lake Michigan Water Trail invites the adventurous to trace its diverse coastal outline by boat.

So, next time you're gazing at Lake Michigan, remember that its colors tell a story—a story of our environment and the ever-changing nature of this beautiful, immense body of water that belongs to Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

Keep an eye on those colors; they've got plenty to say!

Lake Pontchartrain (Louisiana)

Hey there!

Have you ever seen a lake change its colors like a mood ring?

Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana is one such natural wonder.

At times you might see it donning a beautiful shade of blue, but don't be surprised if it occasionally shifts to green or brown.

Why, you ask?

It's all thanks to nutrient pollution and algal growth, which can change a lake's color significantly.

  • Size: 630 square miles
  • Average Depth: 12-14 feet
  • Noteworthy: Lake Pontchartrain is technically an estuary, connected to the Gulf of Mexico.

This shallow giant is massive, yet not very deep.

Its shallow nature means sunlight can easily reach the bottom, fostering algae that play a role in the color change.

Nutrient-rich runoff can also feed the algae, leading to the greenish hues.

Here's a fun fact: The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is one of the longest bridges in the world, stretching nearly 24 miles!

You can drive across and enjoy the changing scenery of this impressive body of water.

Curious about its history?

Lake Pontchartrain is not only about color changes; it has stories to tell.

From its role in local trade to becoming a leisure spot, this lake has been a part of Louisiana's history and culture for a long time.

So remember, when you visit or see pictures of Lake Pontchartrain, you're not just looking at water.

You're witnessing a dynamic ecosystem that's a barometer for environmental conditions, reflecting changes through its mesmerizing palette.

Keep an eye out for those colors; they are telling you a story about what's happening beneath the surface!

Lake Tahoe (California/Nevada)

Hey there, have you ever wondered how Lake Tahoe keeps its Instagram-worthy looks year-round?

It's not all about a clear blue palette.

Sometimes, Lake Tahoe throws in a splash of green just to mix things up!

But why the costume change?

It's all about the algae growth, but don't worry, it's a natural part of Lake Tahoe's seasonal wardrobe.

Now, you might be thinking, "Green algae?

Is that safe?" Absolutely!

It's just Mother Nature's way of keeping things interesting in this massive lake that straddles California and Nevada.

We're talking about an impressive body of water that spans roughly 22 miles long and 12 miles wide, with an astounding depth of about 1,645 feet.

Who wouldn't want to show off a bit with stats like that?

But here's the scoop: in recent years, Lake Tahoe's average clarity has hit depths of 71.7 feet!

Seriously, that means if you dropped your favorite sunglasses into the lake, you could see them from a diving board-long distance underwater.

That's thanks to local environmental efforts ensuring Tahoe stays crystal clear.

And speaking of clear, Tahoe's famous for its mind-bogglingly blue waters most of the year.

Picture it: surrounded by snow-capped mountains, reflecting the sky like a giant, natural mirror.

Does it get any better than this?

Remember, it's not just blue; Lake Tahoe's color can also strut deep greens with equal flair.

So if you're planning a visit or just daydreaming about your next picturesque getaway, remember Lake Tahoe's colors are like its weather—expect the unexpected and pack your camera.

Who knows?

You might just catch one of those green moments for your very own "Wow, look at this!" story.

Lake Champlain (New York/Vermont)

Have you ever seen a lake change its wardrobe with the seasons?

Well, Lake Champlain is quite the fashionista!

Typically, you'd expect this natural beauty to flaunt a classic blue, but not always; sometimes it opts for a trendy green during "algal bloom" season.

Curious about the switch?

It's all about algal blooms.

This phenomenon can occur when too many nutrients, like phosphorus and nitrogen, run off into the lake.

Think of it like overfeeding a goldfish; too much of a good thing, and suddenly you've got a green-tinting problem on your hands—or in this case, on the lake!

Why does this happen?

Farms, urban areas, and stormwater can send extra nutrients into Lake Champlain,which acts like a buffet for algae.

These blooms are no joke, though; they can disrupt the ecosystem and are something the community keeps a close eye on.

Now, the stats—because who doesn't love some numbers to paint the picture?

Lake Champlain is more than just good looks:

  • Length: 124 miles
  • Width: 12 miles at its widest
  • Deepest Point: 400 feet deep, quite the plunge, right?

It's situated between New York's glorious Adirondacks and Vermont's majestic Green Mountains.

With a history dating back to when Samuel de Champlain stumbled upon it in 1609, this lake is not only a natural wonder but also a historic gem.

Remember, Lake Champlain's color-changing act is quite the sight, but it's also a reminder of our impact on nature.

So, let's enjoy the beauty responsibly!

Lake Eufaula (Oklahoma)

Ever wondered why lakes change colors like a mood ring?

Well, you might find Lake Eufaula's transformations pretty fascinating.

This gem in Oklahoma has a dramatic tendency to shift hues from a deep blue to vibrant green and even to a murky brown.

Quite the chameleon, don't you think?

You may ask, "What's the magic behind the color show?" It's a mix of algal blooms and sediment runoff that does the trick.

These natural occurrences can reflect light differently, resulting in Eufaula's varying palette.

Quick Facts for the Curious:

  • Area: Over 100,000 acres
  • Shoreline: More than 600 miles
  • Depth: Stood 63 feet above the Canadian River before the creation

The lake's history is as rich as its colors.

Named after the nearby town, which nods to Creek Indian Chief Eufaula, the lake is a man-made marvel designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And get this, it was built back in the 1960s for flood control and water sourcing needs.

Are you a fan of numbers?

Lake Eufaula proudly boasts being one of the largest lakes in Oklahoma.

That means plenty of room for activities like fishing or simply lounging by the shore.

And if you're up for a spiritual morning, imagine attending a Sunday service in an amphitheater right at the state park—serenity at its best, with a side of community spirit.

So next time you're admiring Lake Eufaula's ever-shifting hues, remember, it's not just a pretty sight; it's a slice of hydro-history mixed with a dash of eco-science!