Algae and Foam on Great Salt Lake

December 29, 2014


Photographer: Brent Watson
Summary Author: Brent Watson

December 2014 Viewer's Choice

The coloration of the Great Salt Lake is something that always amazes me. Gunnison Bay, the north arm of the lake, is colored red like wine. The red wine coloration of the water is caused by pigments such as carotenoids produced by two organisms, the algae Dunaliella Salina and the bacteria Halobacterium. In addition, minerals and microorganisms in the lake produce fascinating colors along the shoreline and in the wet sand.

This photo was taken when the wind was blowing about 20 mph (32 kmph), creating waves on the lake. The combination of the wave action and the surfactants metabolized by the phytoplankton create foam on the surface of the water. It first forms as lines parallel to the waves. The foam is then blown into streaks by the wind. This foam generation occurs more often in the north arm of the lake. Photo taken November 11, 2014.

Photo dDetails: Camera Maker: SONY; Camera Model: SLT-A77V; Focal Length: 35mm; Aperture: ƒ/13.0; Exposure Time: 0.0040 s (1/250); ISO equiv: 100; Software: Adobe Photoshop CS6 (Windows).