As reported on Balidiscovery.com, [See: Dead Fish on a Bali Mountaintop] the color of the Balinese volcanic Lake Batur at Kintamani suddenly change color on Sunday, June 19, 2012, followed by the sudden die-off of thousands of tilapia fish.
The State news agency Antara reports that the lake, some 75 kilometers north of Bali’s capital of Denpasar, has changed hues. This is the third time in recent history that the lake has put on a natural color show, with previous transformation occurring in November 2007 and early 2009.
Observers and scientists are still at a loss to explain exactly why the portions of the lake became a shade of “whitish-blue” - likened to water used to rinse uncooked rice, on June 19th. Some villagers living near the shores speculate the color-change is linked to a volcanic explosion at the crater-bottom of the lake. Experts, however, point out that there was not any corresponding record of seismic activity at nearby monitoring stations that would lend credence to that theory.
The lake sits in portion of a giant caldera measuring 138 square kilometers formed by a cataclysmic volcano that occurred an estimated 2,500 years ago. Today, the lake’s shore is home to a number of traditional Balinese villages and a hot springs resort. On the northern edge of the lake are the lava fields of the still active Mount Batur, which rises to 1,717 meters above sea level and serves as a popular trekking option for Bali visitors.
Previous Color Transformations
In 2007, the water in the lake suddenly took on shades of brown, green and yellow - departing from its normal aqua-blue appearance.
Later, in 2008, white spots accompanied by foam that resembled soap suds appeared on the lake’s surface.
The latest color-changing-episode, of what appears to be a natural phenomenon, has the water taking on a cloudy white appearance; blamed for the die-off of fish and for making local residents suddenly reluctant to use the water for agricultural purposes or human consumption. Nyoman Gunada, a local resident at Lake Batur, said, “we’re frightened that the lake, which has been our water source, may now contain poison or some other dangerous contaminant.”
I Gede Tindih, a community leader from Bintang Danu and a member of the Bangli House of Represnetatives (DPRD-Bangli) is calling for the authorities to urgently undertake laboratory analysis and testing of the lake’s water to determine what, if any, threat it poses to the human population. He suggested that the water color could be due to a sulphur leak at the bottom of the lake or the growth of plankton. “All these things could change the lake’s color. But, so far, these are just suspicions. Because of this, analysis must be done (on the water),” insisted Tindih.
Thousands of Dead Fish
Estimated tens of thousands of mujair and nila fish have died, floating to the surface of the lake and its shoreline.
The head of the Fisheries and Livestock Service for Bangli, A.A. Ngurah Shamba, is not prepared to declare a cause for the lake’s discoloration and the massive loss of fish-life. “We have taken water sample and collected dead fish for analysis to determine why the lake’s color has changed,” explained Shamba.
Local officials are calling on the people living near the lake to remain calm following the incidents, while at the same time maintaining a heightened level of awareness regarding any change in the natural environment.
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