The Colours of Salt

Updated: Oct 7, 2020


When the billowing plumes of Atlantic mist part to reveal the enchanting Dorob coastline, expanses of vividly colored water sprinkled with thousands of lesser and greater flamingo appear in a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of colour. Flying this section of coastline is in short, an aerial photographer’s paradise and will take your breath away.

An upwelling of nutrients from the sea floor provides sustenance for a psychedelic algal bloom on the Atlantic Ocean
The Walvis Bay Lagoon speckled in legions of Flamingo
Tendrils of cerulean and teal curl through sand shoals and luminous meadows
A flock of greater flamingo wade through the brine pans south of Walvis Bay

To the north of the Dorob coastline, brine pans line the shores in a display of colour, shape and texture that leaves one's heart racing with the ethereal beauty of it all. Further south a patchwork series of lime and raspberry saline lakes, edges encrusted with crystals, sparkle against a treeless landscape until they reach the shores of the Walvis Bay Lagoon.

Tidal salt pans on the desolate shores of the Skeleton Coast
Salt grows on a pan like Victorian lace

The cold Benguela current and its nutrient rich waters, the commercial saline lakes and the Walvis Bay lagoon has collectively made the area famous for the incredible profusion of bird life it attracts each year. In this saline ecosystem vast quantities of phytoplankton are produced which support other marine organisms such as algae and brine shrimp, food for many hundreds of thousands of resident and migratory birds including cormorants, terns, avocets and a profusion of shore birds. Brine shrimp rich in beta carotene are responsible for the rosy pink colour of the flocks of flamingos that forage this watery wonderland.


According to Birdlife South Africa, the mudflats and lagoons sheltered from the open ocean by a sand spit at Pelican Point make this the most important coastal wetland in southern Africa and is one of the three most important coastal wetlands in Africa in terms of numbers and species of birds.

So how is it that these saline lakes display such gaudy colors? From lime green, clear turquoise to bright red these variations are caused by fluctuating concentrations of salinity and minerality and the various organisms that flourish in each. Cyanobacteria creates the blue-green tones and an algae called Dunaliella salina creates the rich pinks and reds.

Seeming to float on an ocean of pinks, coastal rock outcrops emerge from the brine ponds

To explore the wonderland of the Dorob coastline in Namibia join us on an aerial safari or aerial photographic workshop www.aerial-africa.com


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Flying thousands of hours in their specially modified aircraft, aerial photographers Jay and Jan Roode have spent more than a decade photographing some of the most remote and spectacular wilderness areas of Southern Africa from above.

The continent of Africa has always held an irresistible allure and fascination for them and they seem content only when free to roam the

skies, capturing awe inspiring images of the

natural wonders of the region from above.


www.aerial-africa.com

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