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Strange Red Lake near Baghdad





Ghost Rider103
I was searching around Baghdad on Google Maps, and came across something I can not explain, and couldn't find much on Google about it either.

Here's a link to it: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=33.396067,44.487838&spn=0.006369,0.009645&t=h&z=17

Does anyone have any idea what this could be?

I've talked about it with some others. Most don't have a clue. Some suggested a slaughterhouse dump ground. Though if you look at the lake or whatever you want to call it, and compare it to the cars near it, that lake is actually quite large. It would take a serious amount of blood to fill that thing, and even then I don't see it being so bright red.
rvec
http://www.satellitesights.com/satelliteimage/Blood_Red_Lake_Baghdad_Iraq
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread387465/pg1
http://boingboing.net/2007/02/14/google_earth_helpful.html
especially the last gives some helpful info.
nam_siddharth
rvec wrote:
http://www.satellitesights.com/satelliteimage/Blood_Red_Lake_Baghdad_Iraq
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread387465/pg1
http://boingboing.net/2007/02/14/google_earth_helpful.html
especially the last gives some helpful info.


All are just wild guesses. No one is sure what it is.
Ghost Rider103
Those were some good finds. I actually found the last article you posted, but it doesn't give any clear answer.

The answer that sounded the most likely to me, was just a mess up from Google when the image was taken. However, when I looked at the date of the article written (back in 07) that answer was then no longer acceptable.

I don't really see how there could be that much blood to make it so bright red. If you compare the lake to houses/shacks nearby, you'll notice the lake is actually quite large. I don't see how it would even be possible to fill a lake up with that much blood to make it display so bright. I mean that thing is bright red, and it was still bright red back in 2007 (when that last article was written).

The idea about it being red tide was also a good answer. But after I read that red tide only last for about a week, it seemed pretty uncommon to me that Google would capture it each year. The second article was posted in 2008, so the image there I am assuming was taken sometime during 2008, while the third article was taken in 2007.

So far, I think the best explanation was the idea that it was caused from iron and copper.

A quote from a comment on the first article:

Quote:
iron and copper from mining operations can make water bright red, but this is just a guess. however, i do not believe algae would appear this bright. - i haven't found a definitive explanation for this yet.


Seems nobody can find a clear answer, and this was known as far back as 2007, maybe even longer.
pll
I think it's kinda scary !
I hope it's not a blood lake.

And I think that the best posssible answer is the mining of iron and copper :O
I don't see anything else.

Try to fill all this water with blood so it becomes bright like this... you'll need something like 100 years.
ocalhoun
Ghost Rider103 wrote:

The idea about it being red tide was also a good answer. But after I read that red tide only last for about a week, it seemed pretty uncommon to me that Google would capture it each year. The second article was posted in 2008, so the image there I am assuming was taken sometime during 2008, while the third article was taken in 2007.

Rolling Eyes

Google doesn't update the maps often! The same image will be used for several years, and all the different articles were talking about the same picture.
(Google used a picture taken at a different time for the wide-view image... Zoom out far enough, and you'll see it suddenly change back to normal water color.)

And, no, it doesn't have to be blood. There are probably other industrial by-products that could turn water red. (Though it could be blood; drop just a little blood into some water, and you'll see that a little can make quite a bit of water red... and slaughterhouses produce a LOT of blood.)
Ghost Rider103
They do not use the same image for "years."

I've looked at my previous house on Google many times in the past, and since then Google has changed the image at least three different times. I have been out of my previous house for two years. So I am pretty confident that they do not use the same image for years.

You may somewhat correct for some areas. I would think it would be nearly impossible to update the entire map all at once. My guess is that they would only update parts of the map which change often. Like new roads being build, etc.

But you are right, if you zoom out far enough the lake does go to a normal color.

Edit: I'm not sure this actually works. If you look at the city part of the map when you zoom out, you'll notice while the lake is still red, the city part is like a light brown color. Then when you zoom out while watching the city, the city seems to just go to a grayish color. So I'm not so sure how accurate those colors are when zooming out.
ocalhoun
Ghost Rider103 wrote:

Edit: I'm not sure this actually works. If you look at the city part of the map when you zoom out, you'll notice while the lake is still red, the city part is like a light brown color. Then when you zoom out while watching the city, the city seems to just go to a grayish color. So I'm not so sure how accurate those colors are when zooming out.

They are never accurate to begin with! They're all taken by different cameras with different lighting conditions. That red lake could have been just a trick of the light to begin with.

And Google will update urban areas before rural, and the US and Europe before the middle East. (Their maps get updated at different rates, depending on how many people want to look at that area. Some very rural areas, even in the US, are still waiting to have the first photo taken of them, much less any updates.)
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
And, no, it doesn't have to be blood. There are probably other industrial by-products that could turn water red. (Though it could be blood; drop just a little blood into some water, and you'll see that a little can make quite a bit of water red... and slaughterhouses produce a LOT of blood.)
I found an interesting article on the Web explaining the red coloration of salt lakes, which apparently the lake near Bagdad is. The colour red is apparently a biological phenomenon of bacteria living in water with a high degree of salt in it. The bacteria is called halobacteria, and is responsible for colouring the water red, like a lake bed of Owen's Lake in Sierra Nevada below:

Quote:
If you have ever driven north on U.S. Highway 395 along the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada in late summer, you may have noticed the vast, pinkish-red, salt flats of Owens Lake gleaming in the desert sun. Near the abandoned Pittsburgh Plate Glass soda ash plant, along the northwestern end of the lake, solar evaporation ponds may be colored a brilliant red. Similar pinkish brine pools can be seen along Highway 50, east of Fallon, Nevada. Pink salt lakes and playas, and the bright red evaporation ponds of salt recovery plants along their shores, are among nature's most remarkable biological phenomena, and occur in arid regions throughout the world. The red coloration is caused by astronomical numbers of microscopic, unicellular organisms living in the water and salt crust. How they survive the blistering summer heat and concentrated brine is truly remarkable.



Quote:
The shovel is stuck into saturated brine in Owens Lake containing red halobacteria.


The article also covers the Red Lake in Baghdad, including the Google map referring to it as:
Quote:
Aerial view of a large salt pond northeast of Bagdad, Iraq. The red coloration is due to carotenoid pigments in dense colonies of halophilic archaebacteria and perhaps also microscopic algae.

I would have loved to be able to scoop up a sample of that, and then possibly put one over on someone else convincing them that water has been turned into blood, or the other way round, such as in the experiment below (taken from the same article):
Quote:
If samples of the red brine from Owens lake are spun in a high speed centrifuge at 5,000 rpm, the water becomes clear as the red bacterial cells are forced to the bottom under about 3,000 g's. The bacteria may then be grown in a special nutrient agar containing at least 25 percent sodium chloride and incubated in a warm oven. After several weeks, small reddish colonies of bacteria begin to appear in the culture dishes. There are two main kinds of extreme salt-loving bacteria, the rod-shaped halobacteria and the spherical halococci. They are extremely small unicellular organisms, visible only under high magnification. To get a rough idea of how small these bacterial cells really are, it would take more than half a million to cover the surface of an ordinary pinhead. A single drop of brine from Owens Lake may contain millions of the minute, rod-shaped Halobacterium, squirming about with seemingly perpetual motion. They are able to swim about by means of minute, hairlike flagella at their ends. They are found in salt lakes and brine ponds throughout the world, including the Great Salt Lake and the Dead Sea.
Arty
It's blood! :O
Ghost Rider103
Deanhills, I also believe that is probably the most logical explanation.

I was doing some reading on the "Red Tide" myself just a little bit ago, and came to the conclusion that the image on Google Maps was probably just taken while the Red Tide was in affect.

It's actually quite an amazing sight. This is probably very rare to appear on Google Maps.

It was making me quite curious, I'm glad I figured out what it was.

Very cool!
deanhills
Ghost Rider103 wrote:
Very cool!
My experience too, I probably spent an hour on it and had lots of fun with it. I was also wondering whether there could be a link with "pink" flamingoes. Seeing that they seem to inhabit salt lakes. Do you think if we should drink this salt water with the halobacteria, that the colour of our skin or hair may change? Smile
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
Ghost Rider103 wrote:
Very cool!
My experience too, I probably spent an hour on it and had lots of fun with it. I was also wondering whether there could be a link with "pink" flamingoes. Seeing that they seem to inhabit salt lakes. Do you think if we should drink this salt water with the halobacteria, that the colour of our skin or hair may change? Smile

Flamingos get their coloring from pink/red shrimp, not bacteria... And if you drank that water, you'd die from too much salt.
Ghost Rider103
deanhills wrote:
Do you think if we should drink this salt water with the halobacteria, that the colour of our skin or hair may change? Smile


If I seen water that looked like blood, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't even think about drinking it. Laughing
Arty
It also looks like rust to me, kind of.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
Flamingos get their coloring from pink/red shrimp, not bacteria... And if you drank that water, you'd die from too much salt.
You are right of course. I found a really good discussion about the pink colouring of Flamingoes in the "African Conservation Foundation" Forum. Looks as though salt water indirectly has an affect on the colouring:
Quote:
The pink colour is due to a carotenoid pigment, similar to astaxanthin, which is derived from the birds' diet. Flamingos feed on small crustaceans, which they sieve through their specially adapted bills. Large expanses of shallow water often become salty through evaporation in saltings by the sea, as in the Camargue in the south of France, or at high altitudes in the Andes, and in Africa. These expanses of water support brine shrimps (artemia), which can make astaxanthin from the simpler carotenoids contained in the algae on which they feed. In flamingos these pigments dissolve in fats and are deposited in the growing feathers. The amount of pigment laid down depends on the quantity in the food. When the birds moult they lose the pigment, and become quite pale if deprived of a carotenoid-rich diet when new feathers are forming. In zoos, flamingos are fed a carotenoid-rich diet to maintain their colour. Carotenoids also occur in molluscs and worms, as well as in crustaceans, so flamingos may be fed shrimp and clams. The pink colour of some other birds, such as spoonbills and the pink ibis, is also due to carotenoids.

Many crustaceans link the carotenoids from their food to proteins. These "carotenoproteins" are often blue or green. When the protein is metabolised, the fat-soluble carotenoids pass into the fat and turn it pink or orange. The same effect is achieved when a crab or shrimp is boiled; the protein is denatured by the heat and the carotenoid is released. This is why cooked shrimps are pink. When a diet contains very large amounts of carotenoid, the excess pigment is sequestered: in the feathers of birds and the skin of mammals.

R. P. Dales , University of London, UK

ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:

Quote:
When a diet contains very large amounts of carotenoid, the excess pigment is sequestered: in the feathers of birds and the skin of mammals.


So, go on a shrimp-and-lobster-only diet, and you may succeed in changing color ^.^
Or perhaps you could isolate it and take it as a supplement pill?
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
So, go on a shrimp-and-lobster-only diet, and you may succeed in changing color ^.^
Or perhaps you could isolate it and take it as a supplement pill?
I was thinking more along the lines of eating the green microalga (Haematococcus pluvialis) that the shrimps and lobsters are consuming in order to get their colour. Scientists have also managed to isolate an important carotenoid called astaxanthin, which apparently has some great antioxidant properties along the lines of a supplement, but I would be more interested in the "natural" microalga. When I was reading the article below I discovered that scientists apparently are able to make an unnatural source from petrochemcial products and they are using those (probably because they are cheaper) for getting farmed salmon to have their pink colour.
Quote:
Moreover, natural ASTAXANTHIN exists in algae and fish as mono- and di-esters of fatty acids, while synthetic ASTAXANTHIN is produced and sold for salmon farming as free hydroxy ASTAXANTHIN. In nutraceutical applications as well, scientists have proven that one of the main advantages of natural ASTAXANTHIN esters is that the esterified form is inherently more stable than the free form, providing for a significantly longer shelf life without being oxidized. Several recent studies clearly showed the positive effect of ASTAXANTHIN esters mixed with fat formulations on the oral bioavailability of ASTAXANTHIN in humans

Source: http://www.algatech.com/astax.htm
ProfessorY91
Well, one thing is for sure, it can't be blood. Ocalhoun mentioned that the lake changed back to a normal color if you zoomed out far enough - thus we have some kind of error when taking the image. If that isn't the case, then its anyone's guess.
deanhills
ProfessorY91 wrote:
Well, one thing is for sure, it can't be blood. Ocalhoun mentioned that the lake changed back to a normal color if you zoomed out far enough - thus we have some kind of error when taking the image. If that isn't the case, then its anyone's guess.
The Lake has to be Red as the information was authenticated by an education Website:
Quote:
Aerial view of a large salt pond northeast of Bagdad, Iraq. The red coloration is due to carotenoid pigments in dense colonies of halophilic archaebacteria and perhaps also microscopic algae.
lagoon
I'm surprised the Bush administration didn't try and use it as justification for the Iraq war in the united Nations... Razz
deanhills
lagoon wrote:
I'm surprised the Bush administration didn't try and use it as justification for the Iraq war in the united Nations... Razz
Laughing Laughing Laughing A good one! I guess that has to be the weapon of mass destruction that he has been looking for?
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