Melbourne Creek Turns Bright Pink; Environmental Officials Investigate

May 10, 2020 Updated: May 10, 2020

Australian environmental officials are investigating what turned a creek in Melbourne’s north to bright pink over the weekend.

Authorities are still unsure why Edgars Creek, in Coburg North, turned a shade of fluorescent pink on May 9, and warned the public to avoid the bizarre phenomenon until further notice.

“EPA officers are investigating the cause of the strange discoloration which happened near Adnette Court,” Victoria’s Environmental Protection Authority wrote on Facebook on May 9. In an updated post, the authority said the creek has since started “returning to normal as it is naturally flushed from recent rainfall.”

In another post on May 10, the EPA said heavy rains have now “flushed the pink pollutant from the creek, which is returning to normal,” and thanked the Coburg North community for reporting the incident.

Tara DeGraft-Hayford, a Melbourne resident, told The Age that she had seen the pollution on May 9 while she was out walking her dog.

“I thought it was a plastic sheet, and as I got closer, I noticed it was coming from the drain and the water was actually pink,” she said, noting that the bizarre sight almost looked like soap.

“It looked quite thick and so bright, almost like some kind of soap—but not. It was weird,” she said, adding that the pollution had no smell, but it looked “not right and definitely not safe, whatever it was.”

According to The Age, Edgars Creek runs 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) from Wollert through Epping, Thomastown, and Reservoir before joining the Merri Creek at Coburg North and is populated with native bird species.

Edgars Creek isn’t the only body of water in Victoria to turn pink, as the city’s Westgate Park also turns a bright cotton candy shade most summers due to a natural process, when salt levels are higher than usual.

“Westgate Park’s salt lake has turned pink again this season: a natural phenomenon in response to very high salt levels, high temperatures, sunlight and lack of rainfall,” Parks Victoria explained in a 2017 Facebook post.

“Algae growing in the salt crust at the bottom of the lake produces the red pigment (beta carotene) as part of its photosynthesis process and in response to extremely high salt levels.”

The organization said that while the algae isn’t harmful to local wildlife, people should avoid coming into contact with the water and instead just “enjoy the views.”