Qld scientists solve mystery surrounding Boondall Wetlands turning pink

Scientist finally have an answer for why the water at a popular wetlands in South East Queensland turned the colour of a pink milkshake, sending social media into a frenzy for the Instagram worthy backdrop.

The water ecology unit at the Department of Environment and Science (DES) has solved the mystery of the what caused the pink blooms that turned the water in the Boondall Wetlands pink.

Principal scientist Glenn McGregor said the microbe identified for turning the water pink had not been observed by DES scientists previously in South East Queensland.

“Based on the colour of the water, we originally thought it might be a bacterium that sometimes washes up in mangroves and can cause similar pinkish accumulations,” Dr McGregor said.

“We analysed four samples which confirmed it wasn’t the microbe we thought it was, and we needed to do genetic sequencing the find the pink bloom culprit.”

Dr McGregor said Brisbane City Council had sent the department water samples for analysis in early October.

“The genetic sequencing was completed by Dr Chris Rinke at the University of Queensland,” Dr McGregor said.

“The sequencing results have shown the microbe belongs to the genus Rhodovulum, and this is the first time this bacterium has been observed by DES in South East Queensland before.

“Rhodovulum is associated with pink coastal waters and sulphide-rich environments such as blooming seawater pools and mudflats.

“These bacteria utilise sulphide as an electron donor for growth which helps them survive in these in sulphide-rich environments.”

Dr McGregor said the lack of winter rain in the region caused the Boondall Wetlands to saline, which created the perfect environment for Rhodovulum microbes that require hypersaline conditions.

“As the Rhodovulum microbes reproduce and the populations booms, they turn the water pink because of their colouration,” he said.

“The beautiful pink blooms at the Boondall Wetlands is rare, but there are plenty of coastal locations across Australia with pink water when conditions are right.”

Many people ventured to the wetlands to see the mysterious pink milkshake coloured water, with photos flooding social media for a short time.

Originally published as Qld scientists solve mystery surrounding Boondall Wetlands turning pink