Tanzania -  Lake Natron

Alcolapia species of Lake Natron, Tanzania

Lake Natron is an inhospitable body of water in northern Tanzania with a pH above 11, too caustic for any fish to survive. The lake is home to millions of flamingoes, feeding on algae in the shallow water. The Alcolapia species are restricted to small volcanic springs around the margins of the lake where a pH above 10, temperatures between 30-40°C, fluctuating dissolved oxygen levels (0.08-6.46 mg/l) and high salt concentrations have led to the evolution of three of the most exremely adapted fishes anywhere. 

Like other shallow lake habitats the region is under threat from desertification, but also a planned trona (sodium carbonate) mine. This Soda ash is used in the manufacture of glass, chemicals, and detergents.

The lake itself has a surface area of nearly 400 km2, but just how large is the actual habitat available to the fishes? How has the region changed in the last 50 years and can we observe a trend in the decline of the habitat available to these species? 

Fish + Forest seeks to answer these questions using historical photographs, satellite imagery and UAV images to calculate and map the space available for the fishes, assess their population density and document their behaviour and ecology under water. 

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