FACT CHECK: Does This Tanzanian Lake Turn Any Animal That Touches It To Stone?

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims any animal that touches Natron Lake in Tanzania will turn to stone.

Verdict: False

While the saltwater lake is highly alkaline and inhospitable for some species of animals, other species are capable of living in and around it. The carcasses of animals that died in the lake are calcified over time by the properties of the lake, not turned to stone.

Fact Check:

Lake Natron in Tanzania is a saltwater lake with a pH of 10.5 (nearly as high as that of ammonia) and temperatures up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Smithsonian Magazine. An image shared on Facebook claims it turns any animal that touches it to stone.

The image shows what appears to be the petrified remains of two birds sitting on a body of water. “Natron Lake in Tanzania is the most (sic) deadliest place for animals,” reads text included in the image. “Any animal which touches the lake turns into stone.” (RELATED: Does This Image Show A Heart-Shaped Pond In Zimbabwe?)

The dead animals in the photos were not instantly turned to stone by the lake, but rather became calcified due to the characteristics of the lake, according to National Geographic. The photographs included in the post were taken by photographer Nick Brandt in 2013, who collected the animal carcasses around the lake’s shoreline and posed them for the pictures, the outlet reported.

“A calcified flamingo, preserved by the highly basic waters of Tanzania’s Lake Natron and photographed by Nick Brandt,” reads National Geographic’s caption of one of the photos included in the Facebook post. Live Science describes the dead animals as having “chalky sodium carbonate deposits outlining their bodies.”

Though the harsh conditions have made the lake inhospitable for most species, some sea life and other birds can withstand the properties of the lake, according to Live Science. The lake does support “a thriving ecosystem of salt marshes, freshwater wetlands, flamingos and other wetland birds, tilapia and the algae on which large flocks of flamingos feed,” the outlet reported.

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter